The Victem's Burden

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Title: The Victem's Burden Disrupted Identity and Social Tensions in the Reintegration of Ex-LRA in Northern Uganda
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Pierce, Alexandra
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Northern Uganda
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This study addresses the dilemmas with implementing Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) programs in conflict-ridden communities with limited resources such as in the case of Northern Uganda. The social identity theory considered in the first chapter supplies the foundation to explore whether or not the relationship between the LRA and the Acholi community is creating a separate and permanent identity around those identified as ex-LRA. The second chapter discusses the formulation and implementation of DDR programs since they were first employed as instruments for securing peace and ensuring post-conflict reconstruction. The final chapter applies the principles of the first two chapters in evaluating the successes of the DDR program and the humanitarian intervention in Northern Uganda and whether or not they contribute to the creation of a separate and possibly debilitating identity surrounding the LRA ex-combatants who have been �reintegrated� back into the Acholi community. The conclusion does not provide an answer to whether or not a permanent LRA identity has been created. However, this study does suggest that there are clear tensions between the ex-LRA and the Acholi community that could progress into a new identity if the go unaddressed. This study reveals the social, political, and developmental implications of reintegrating ex-combatants and informs our understanding of the consequences that can arise.
Statement of Responsibility: by Alexandra Pierce
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Hicks, Barbara

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 P6
System ID: NCFE004434:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: The Victem's Burden Disrupted Identity and Social Tensions in the Reintegration of Ex-LRA in Northern Uganda
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Pierce, Alexandra
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Northern Uganda
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This study addresses the dilemmas with implementing Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) programs in conflict-ridden communities with limited resources such as in the case of Northern Uganda. The social identity theory considered in the first chapter supplies the foundation to explore whether or not the relationship between the LRA and the Acholi community is creating a separate and permanent identity around those identified as ex-LRA. The second chapter discusses the formulation and implementation of DDR programs since they were first employed as instruments for securing peace and ensuring post-conflict reconstruction. The final chapter applies the principles of the first two chapters in evaluating the successes of the DDR program and the humanitarian intervention in Northern Uganda and whether or not they contribute to the creation of a separate and possibly debilitating identity surrounding the LRA ex-combatants who have been �reintegrated� back into the Acholi community. The conclusion does not provide an answer to whether or not a permanent LRA identity has been created. However, this study does suggest that there are clear tensions between the ex-LRA and the Acholi community that could progress into a new identity if the go unaddressed. This study reveals the social, political, and developmental implications of reintegrating ex-combatants and informs our understanding of the consequences that can arise.
Statement of Responsibility: by Alexandra Pierce
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Hicks, Barbara

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 P6
System ID: NCFE004434:00001

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The Victims Burden: Disrupted Identity and Social Tensions in the Reintegration of Ex LRA in Northern Uganda By Alexandra Day Pierce A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Barbara Hicks Sarasota, Florida March 2011


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This thesis and more importantly the path which has brought me to this point would not be possible without the guidance and support of some truly wonderful people. I would like to thank my family; my mother, for being the most unwaveringly best frie nd I will ever have; my father, for teaching me the importance of hard work; and my sister, for simply being the individual that she is. To Dr. Barbara Hicks, for sponsoring this thesis. For guiding me throughout these past four years, thank you for your time, and your patience. This thesis would not be what it is if I had not had you pushing me to think critically about what I was trying to accomplish. To Dr. Nat Colletta for sharing his innumerable resources with me that made the limited research I did in Northern Uganda possible. Thank you for supporting and encouraging me and sharing your knowledge with me. I would als o like to thank Dr. Erin Dean. Thank you for your time and effort.


ii Table of Contents Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................. ii Table of Contents ............................................................................................................... iii List of Tables and Figures ....................................................................................................v Abbreviations ..................................................................................................................... vi Abstract ............................................................................................................................. vii Map of Northern Uganda ................................................................................................... ix Introduction ........................................................................................................................1 Chapter One The Acholi in the Ugandan Context .......................................................7 The Production of Ethnicity ...................................................................................10 A Definition of Ethnicity .......................................................................................11 Construction of Ethnicity .......................................................................................13 Causes of Ethnic Conflict ......................................................................................16 Historical Background ...........................................................................................17 Conclusion .............................................................................................................23 Chapter Two DDR, Amnesty, and the LRA in Northern Uganda ...........................25 DDR: Past and Present ...........................................................................................27 DDR Breakdown ....................................................................................................31 DDR and Child Soldiers ........................................................................................33 Amnesties and DDR ..............................................................................................31 The Case of Northern Uganda ...............................................................................37 The LRA Conflict ..................................................................................................37 Amnesty, the ICC and Northern Uganda ...............................................................41 The Humanitarian Situation in Northern Uganda ..................................................43 Cessation of Hostilities ..........................................................................................46 A Relative Peace and Post Conflict Recovery .......................................................48


iii Chapter Three The Acholi and the LRA: Reintegration and its Aftermath ...........50 Non combatants in Northern Uganda ....................................................................51 Ex LRA Returnees in Northern Uganda ................................................................58 Reintegration and Its Social Implications ..............................................................63 Identity Issues ........................................................................................................66 Areas of Interaction ................................................................................................71 Relationships in the Camps ....................................................................................71 Urban Areas ...........................................................................................................73 Transit Sites ...........................................................................................................75 Rural Areas ............................................................................................................75 Conclusion .............................................................................................................77 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................80 Bibliography .....................................................................................................................88 Appendix I ........................................................................................................................92


iv List of Tables and Figures Table 3.1 Noncombatant Exposure to Violence ...............................................................54 Table 3.2 Ex LRA Returnee Experience of Violence .......................................................60 Table 3.3 Exposure to Violence .........................................................................................62 Table 3.4 Attitudes of the Community towards Ex LRA Returnees in Social Situations .74 Table 4.1 Sense of Security among the Acholi Community ..............................................82 Figure 3.1 Experience of Reintegrat ion for Ex LRA Returnees ........................................68 Figure 3.2 Perceptions of Peace .........................................................................................78 Map of Northern Uganda ................................................................................................... ix Map I: Map of Displacement .............................................................................................40


v Abbreviations CMT Ceasefire Monitoring Team DDR Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration DRC Democratic Republic of Congo DRT Demobilization and Resettlement Team FAP(s) Formerly Abducted Person(s) GUSCO Gulu Support the Children Organization ICC International Criminal Court ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross IDDRS Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Standards IDP(s) Internationally Displaced Person(s) IOM International Organization for Migration LC Local Commissioner LRA Lords Resistance Army NGO(s) Non Governmental Organization(s) NRA Nation al Resistance Army NRC Norwegian Refugee Council PRDP Peace Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda UN United Nations UNDP United Nations Development Program UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNLA Ugandan National L iberation Army UPDF Ugandan Peoples Defense Force SIDDR Stockholm Initiative on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration SWA Y Survey of War Affected Youth


vi The Victims Burden: Disrupted Identity and Social Tensions in the Reintegration of Ex LRA in Northern Uganda Alexandra Pierce New College of Florida, 2011 Abstract This study addresses the dilemmas with implementing Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) programs in conflict ridden communities with limited resources such as in the case of Northern Uganda. The social identity theory considered in the first chapter supplies the foundation to explore whether or not the relationship between the LRA and the Acholi community is creating a separate an d permanent identity around those identified as ex LRA. The second chapter discusses the formulation and implementation of DDR programs since they were first employed as instruments for securing peace and ensuring post conflict reconstruction. The final ch apter applies the principles of the first two chapters in evaluating the successes of the DDR program and the humanitarian intervention in Northern Uganda and whether or not they contribute to the creation of a separate and possibly debilitating identity s urrounding the LRA ex combatants who have been reintegrated back into the Acholi community. The conclusion does not provide an answer to whether or not a permanent LRA identity has been created. H owever, this study does suggest that there are clear tensi ons between the ex LRA and the Acholi community that could progress into a new identity if the go unaddressed. This study reveals t he social, political, and developmental implications of


vii reintegrating ex combatants and informs our understanding of the consequences that can arise. Barbara Hicks Division of Social Sciences


viii Map of Northern Uganda (Reprinted from Bs and Hatly 2005, iv)


1 Introduction The growing social division between many Acholi and reintegrated e x LRA in Northern Uganda presents a significant hurdle for securing a long term and sustainable peace. The creation and establishment of separate group identities, despite the fact that both groups share a common ethnicity, has been reinforced not only by the conflict, but also by the humanitarian and development interventions that have been implemented. In a post conflict environment such as the one in Northern Uganda, considering the growth of these group identities is crucial to achieving a better understanding of the consequences that occur when interventions do not appropriately account for the cultural and historical experiences of the community that has been ravaged by the conflict. Northern Uganda is an extremely important case for elucidating the possible effects of post conflict interventions that are designed to address any communitys concerns and the cost of failure even when a common ethnicity is shared. Dis armament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programs have become a pivotal part of peacemak ing and peacekeeping operations. Their aim is to disarm parties involved in a conflict and to provide the means to secure, stabilize, and establish a sustainabl e foundation for future interventions in the post conflict recovery environment. Often incorporated into peace agreements, DDR programs and occasionally amnesty programs (as in the case of Northern Uganda ) are meant to bring the communities ravaged by con flict back together so they can begin recovering and developing cohesively. When first introduced as tools for peacemaking and peacekeeping, DDR programs were focused largely on the individual being reintegrated, excluding the


2 receiving community from most of the process. After realizing the problems associated with targeting only the individual combatants, the international community initiated a shift towards a community based approach, but, unfortunately, this shift accounted for a loss in the individual attention needed to secure a stable reintegration for combatants. A fine balance must be found between the individual and community approaches for a sustainable DDR program to be implemented, a balance that has not yet been struck by the international community. Northern Uganda provides an example of the individual approach, but it also integrated the process of amnesty for the combatants, adding another complicating factor to an already complicated DDR process. At the heart of more than two decades of co nflict that began in 1987, the Acholi of Northern Uganda remain the victims of a war between Joseph Konys Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan g overnment under President Yoweri Museveni. The Acholi, who make up nearly the entire Northern Ugandan p opulation in the districts most affected by the conflict, have been the primary victims of the conflict, but unfortunately they are not the only victims because of the LRAs spreading activities in Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and most recently t he Central African Republic. The LRA, a predominantly Acholi rebel movement, has terrorized its own people and has subjected them to gross human rights atrocities. The abduction and forced conscription of children has been a major tactic of the LRA since t he beginning of the war, and is arguably the most well known throughout the international community. It was not until 2006, when the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement was implemented, that the region experienced a relative peace. As part of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, a DDR program and amnesty program w ere designed to disarm, grant amnesty to, and


3 reintegrate LRA combatants in an attempt to stabilize the Northern region. Most importantly, though, the programs addressed the main concern for the Ugandan g overnment and President Yoweri Museveni: to disarm and demobilize the LRA combatants. The Ugandan government is not blameless for the situation in Northern Uganda. During the same period in which the LRA was brutalizing the Acholi, a massive humanitarian crisis was occurring in Northern Uganda, resulting largely from the Ugandan governments policy of forced displacement of the Acholi into what they called protected villages. First implemented in 1996, these protected villages, now referred to as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP ) camps where nearly the entire Northern Uganda population were forced to live, were used primarily as shields for the Ugandan military from LRA attacks. With over one million Acholi living in these squalid overcrowded c amps, the LRA would stage countless assaults to abduct whomever and pillage whatever they wanted. The combination of an ongoing conflict with a widespread humanitarian crisis complicated the humanitarian intervention as well as the DDR process after the Ce ssation of Hostilities Agreement had been implemented. The disproportionate amount of attention given to the reintegration of ex LRA in Northern Uganda has created lasting social tensions between them and the rest of the Acholi community. This division is sharpening group identities, despite the fact that ex LRA and their community share a common ethnicity, and this rift could have severe implications for the stability of the region in the future. Understanding how the DDR and amnesty program s in Northern Uganda have contributed to the stability of the region and whether they have contributed to growing


4 social unrest is important to assessing not only the effectiveness of the program s themselves but also the consequence s of such an extensive program s fail ure for the future of the Acholi. As the humanitarian crisis comes to an end, those working for reconstruction face a nearly total lack of communal and institutional support for the formerly internally displaced population. Implementing a program that brid ges the social tensions resulting from the disproportionate support given to ex LRA is essential to ensuring a lasting peace and an environment in which the Acholi can truly move beyond this conflict that has tormented them for so long. This study can also contribute to the discussions surrounding conflict areas around the world, and in particular the implications that the programs implemented by the international community have on the affected populations In an effort to answer the question of whether the ex LRA identity that is being created in Northern Uganda will be temporary or permanent, this study will utilize both primary and secondary sources. The evidence that provides the foundation for the ana lysis within this study comes from field research done in Northern Uganda for four months in the fall of 2009, as well as from reports and studies prepared by governmental, nongovernmental, and private organizations working in the region. This information is from scholarly articles and books on the conflict. During my field research in fall 2009, I lived amongst the Acholi in Gulu and worked with the Amnesty Commission. I met with and interviewed a number of ex LRA, but the most significant information I collected was through participant observation and casual conversation. Living with an Acholi family with whom I became very close during my study abroad period in Gulu, I was exposed to their daily lives and activities, and I


5 came to have a better unders tanding of the variety of situations facing Acholi living inside and just outside of Gulu municipality. I also made several day trips outside of Gulu district, to the town of Kitgum (in Kitgum district which lies on the Sudanese border), to an IDP camp at Koch Goma in Amuru district as well as to Arua. The economic situation in Gulu is challenging for most of its residents; unless they own a shop or another business, their source of employment is often sporadic. Chapter I of this study begins with a dis cussion of the social implications that the reintegration efforts have had for the Acholi community. I suggest that, due to how the DDR and amnesty programs were implemented, the Acholi and e x LRA have become two distinct group identities rooted in particu lar to the nature of the conflict, but I also suggest that they have been reinforced by the post conflict interventions. After establishing the problem of the separate group identities, the chapter will provide a historical overview of Uganda with particul ar emphasis on the Acholis experience with marginalization during the c olonial and post c olonial time periods up to the start of the LRA conflict. It then provides a background of the conflict and humanitarian crisis progressing through to the time when t he Cessation of Hostilities Agreement was implemented in 2006. Understanding the role of the Ugandan g overnment after independence in establishing Acholi identity and the role it has had in the conflict is important to understanding how the interventions t aken in Northern Uganda have contributed to and sustained the continued marginalization of the Acholi. The chapter ends with an account of the international communitys involvement during the conflict and the role it continues to play in the region.


6 Chap ter II addresses the established perspectives and theories on DDR implementation in general and then considers in more detail the perspectives on its implementation in Northern Uganda. The chapter also introduces the a mnesty process as it applies to Northe rn Uganda. Particular emphasis is placed upon the implementation of both programs simultaneously and the lack of the receiving communitys involvement in both processes. By the end of this chapter, I develop the hypothesis that how the DDR program was impl emented, combined with an amnesty granting process and almost complete exclusion of the receiving c ommunity in the process, has exacerbated social tensions between the e x LRA and the rest of the Acholi community, which threatens to create permanent social divisions strong enough to undermine the sustainability of peace in Northern Uganda. Chapter III looks in greater detail at the impacts that the LRA insurgency has had on the Acholi population, the situation of IDPs throughout the conflict and now, the so cial implications of the international communitys presence in Northern Uganda, the Ugandan governments role and the social identities that have been created since the conflict began. This chapter examines the type of international aid that has been and continues to be provided throughout Northern Uganda. I conclude that, while Northern Uganda has experienced a relative peace for nearly five years, new and deep social tensions have been created and are being sustained by the interventions that have and ar e taking place throughout the region and pose a serious threat to the future stability of the region if the ex LRA identity is to become a permanent social cleavage These tensions must be taken into account before the implementation of new programs occurs in order to prevent further marginalization of and within the Acholi community.


7 Chapter One The Acholi in the Ugandan Context The social environment in Uganda is full of political and ethnic division around which significant problems have arisen since independence, and these divisions have only been exacerbated since then. This study proposes that within the national Ugandan cont ext of social and ethnic division there is a growing split between the Acholi and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), which has consist ed largely of Acholi This new rift resulting from an imposed group identity on the reintegrated LRA ex combatants that is separate from the Acholi ethnic identity into which most were born. The process of imposing a separate group identity on the LRA, and therefore the reintegrated ex combatants, has bee n gradual and reinforced by the international community, the Ugandan government, and the humanitarian response to the conflict in Northern Uganda. Emerging from within the Acholi ethnic group, the LRA has come to be recognized within the international community as a rebel and terrorist organization that has brutalized not only its own community but an entire region for over two decades. The Acholi community has organized itself around its cultural traditions, beliefs, and ethnic identity to combat the neg ative association with the LRA. Here, I consider the Acholi identity f r om a historical perspective in order to understand the reason the Acholi community seeks to differentiate itself from the LRA and the other ethnic groups in Uganda. The historical exper iences of the Acholi, when considered in relation to the


8 current situation in Northern Uganda can illuminate the identity formation taking place involving the LRA. The Acholi identity was purposefully created by the British, manipulated by the Ugandan gov ernment and inadvertently legitimized by the international community which has further contributed to the re vision of the Acholi identity. Originally identified as an Acholi rebellion, the LRA has become a separate group of its own receiving a different kind of attention from the remainder of the Acholi population. The conflicting identifications of both the Acholi and LRA have led to a social environm ent that is becoming increasingly hostile towards the reintegration of ex combatants. The Acholi have be en identified for so long as the victims of the Northern Ugandan conflict that the international community, Ugandan government and even the Acholi community have forgotten that the long term abductees too were victims of the LRA and were forced to become p erpetrators. The humanitarian response to the war in Northern Uganda is another factor that has contributed to the construction of the LRA identity through the nature of relief services provided to the ex combatants and abductees of the LRA when compared t o the remainder of the Acholi population of which approximately ninety percent were internally displaced. The reintegration process undertaken in Northern Uganda involves the complete reintegration of ex combatants into Acholi society. The process faces significant obstacles, including the returnees feeling ostracized and stigmatized by their own community. The feelings of the returnees are often overlooked based upon the widely understood nature of the Acholi communitys cultural belief in forgiveness, w hich has been utilized by the state and the international community to implement an Amnesty Act


9 that allows ex combatants to return and face no persecution from state or local governments. Unfortunately, this approach has resulted in feelings of resentment towards reintegrated ex combatants and an unsuccessful reintegration program. The differences that have been constructed between the LRA and the Acholi have hindered the reintegration process and made life difficult for those who have returned. The reject ion of the LRA as a part of the Acholi identity is understandable, but the imagining of such differences has created an identity for the LRA with a power and resilience of its own, which is in turn solidified by the governments actions. The former ex comb atants and abductees who have returned no longer have a community of their own and are seen as people entirely separate from how they identify themselves. The imposition of the LRA identity has come from all sides and in the national, international and Ac holi communities. The imposition of a separate LRA identity, a forceful change in identity distinct from the Acholi, while originating in the trauma of the conflict, can also be linked to the reintegration programs that are being implemented as well as the general humanitarian and development interventions in Northern Uganda. Understanding the implications that the reintegration programs and the humanitarian and development interventions have had in Northern Uganda shed s light on how the current situation can be prevented in future responses and interventions around the world. In this chapter, I consider the literature on ethnic identity to establish a foundation for understanding whether a separate LRA identi ty has been created by the Acholi community, th e Ugandan government, and the international community, and how such a division could lead to further conflict if it remains. Following the literature review, I provide a historical background for my


10 analysis. B eginning with the politicization of ethnicitie s in Uganda during the colonial period, I then chronicle the major regime changes after independence that contributed to the restructuring of Acholi identity in the post colonial period, take a historical look at the conflict, and conclude with the current situation in Northern Uganda. The Production of Ethnicity Theoretical approaches to how ethnicities are constructed and how they change are of particular relevance here, as they provide insight into how the LRA has become a separate identity from the Acholi. Much of the literature describes the experiences of minority groups throughout history and in countries throughout the world, but the experiences of minority groups throughout history and in countries throughout the world, but the experiences are by no means comprehensive, and therefore cannot offer a standard definition or approach to confronting the issues that arise. An understanding of the historical experiences of any group is necessary to understand how the construction of ethnicity has occur red, and are significant for this study and the case of Uganda. It is not the purpose here to place blame on the historical experiences or the actors involved for the current situations, but to provide a foundation for critically looking at how and why eth nicity has become such an embraced measure of difference by one group from another. This is universal and it is possible to consider the historical experiences of countries and societies and critically consider how ethnicity has become so engrained within them. After considering the definitions proposed ethnicity, this chapter reviews the theoretical contributions to understanding how ethnicity is constructed and concludes


11 with a section on how ethnicity can be manipulated to create an environment where con flict is likely. A Definition of Ethnicity The literature on ethnicity is extremely broad and varied, and the complexity of the term itself often leads t confusion as to what it actually encompasses. Debates remain over an appropriate definition of e thnicity; some believe that ethnicity encompasses inherent traits with which one is born, resulting in a collective identity and therefore a competition between groups. Others see ethnicity as a completely constructed identity created as processes from wit hin and outside the group. A more comprehensive approach will be taken here which combines the two, bringing the historical and inherent cultural features together with the political and social constructivist elements of the second. Ethnic groups are o ften characterized in terms of their culture, identity, values and boundaries that separate them from other groups. Approached differently from various disciplines, the definition of ethnicity does find common ground, in that each definition has biological cultural, interactive, and social components (Barth 1981, 199200). Some believe that ethnicity is based on ancestry and kinship and that the individuals within ethnic groups are connected by shared characteristics (Horowitz 1985, 52). The historical com ponent must not be forgotten as it too has significant impacts on what ethnicity is at any given time. Others believe that ethnicity is an evolving collection of traits and characteristics constructed from historical experiences (Comaroff and Comaroff 2009, 38).


12 Emphasizing the historical experiences of marginalized groups is a method used by Audrey Smedley who explores the issue of race in North America and in doing so, establishes a framework that is useful in considering the historical experiences of the Acholi in the greater Ugandan context. In her exploration of the construction of the racial ideology in North America, Smedley establishes five ideological ingredients that mirror the components shared between the various disciplines mentioned above (Sm edley 2007, 2728). The five ingredients are; the idea that humans can be placed in exclusive groups based on biological differences; these groups are ranked against one another; physical attributes define not only appearance but also personal qualities; all the defining attributes, including culture are biol ogically inherited; each group was created by nature or God and was believed to be unchangeable and therefore could never be bridged or transcended (Smedley 2007, 2728). Ethnic boundaries identify a member from a nonmember, are flexible, and often chan ge together with ethnicity, but the construction of the ethnic boundaries is again heavily influenced by the historical experiences of that particular group. As both an individual and a group process ethnic identity is both optional and mandatory, as indi vidual choices are circumscribed by the ethnic categories available at a particular time and place (Nagel 1994, 156). The combination of choice, imposition, and construction in the process of creating an ethnic identity contributes to its fluidity within the fluctuating realm of group relations and offers an explanation for its development over time. The development and construction of ethnicity will be explored further in the following section, but it is important first to clarify the definition of ethnic ity that will be employed for the purposes of this study. The definition derives from a combination of


13 those provided in the literature to ensure that the framework in which this study is working is as complete as possible. The use of the word construction is not meant to dismiss the ideas of those who believe in the inherited nature of ethnicity which forms a collective identity; on the contrary, the word is used to illustrate that it is only through a combination of components that the construction of ethnicity is even possible. Therefore, when ethnicity is used throughout this study it is meant to designate a population which: (a) is largely biologically self perpetuating; (b) shares fundamental cultural values, realized in overt unity in cultural forms; (c) makes up a field of communication and integration; (d) has a membership which identifies itself, and is identified by others, as constituting a category distinguishable from other categories of the same order (Barth 1981, 199200). In addition to Ba rths contribution, ethnicity in this study is also constructed by external social, economic, and political processes and actors, and also considers the historical experiences that create the social, economic and political environments that influence its construction. There is no universally accepted definition of ethnicity, but it is possible to offer a thorough consideration of the components that constitute ethnic identities. Construction of Ethnicity The construction of ethnicity involves social (both within the group and outside), economic, and political processes which affect its evolution over time. When dealing with a minority population within a larger group, imposition of ethnic identity from ext ernal social interactions involves groups actively rejected by the host population because of behavior or characteristics positively condemned, though often useful in some specific, practical wayas breakers of basic taboos they were rejected by the larger society (Barth 1981, 220). An internal split is manifested through the creation of ethnic boundaries establishing important differences between the groups involved, but these


14 boundaries are continuously negotiated, revised, and revitalized, both by e thnic group members themselves as well as by outside observers based upon the interpretation of threats to the groups identity (Nagel 1994, 152153). The polarization of group identities occurs not only within larger ethnic groups but also between them, and the construction of such dichotomized ethnic boundaries contributes to the reification of identities. When groups respond to changes in the social, economic, and political spheres, identities are adapted further to account for the disturbances and reinforce in a sense, reestablish the cultural values that were challenged. Identity is thought by some to be constructed in part by in group/out group comparisonsto differentiate themselves from each other (Tajfel and Turner 1979, 41), this is true for e thnicity as well. By employing comparisons, groups systematically add to and reform the boundaries that separate them and it is this, the ethnic boundary that defines the group, not the cultural stuff that it encloses (Barth 1981, 204). The point made by Barth illustrates the importance of considering the political, economic, and social influences that lie outside of the groups boundaries to understand how and why group identities continue to be restructured, but it is pivotal not to dismiss the cultura l stuff as unessential. On the contrary, the cultural stuff creates an opportunity to look critically at the actual versus perceived and imagined differences between the groups, as well as discover the methods used to polarize identities and bring about conflict. The five ingredients that are manifested to form the racial worldview in North America as Smedley proposes, provides a framework that can be readily applied to a vast array of historical backgrounds.


15 Smedleys ideas about race, when combined wi th Benedict Andersons ideas about imagined communities and how they are inherently finite, sovereign and based on a sense of camaraderie despite a lack of a faceto face connection illustrate how the ethnic boundaries are manipulated and continue to chan ge as the group redefines itself in conjunction with changes in the economic, political and social environments The contributions of Smedley and Anderson complement one another, making it easier to apply both of the frameworks they offer to the case of the Acholi within the Ugandan context. Ethnic identities are made of neither stone nor putty. They are malleable within limits [and] do change, but the contrasts and challenges that cause these changes often create tensions that can lead to intergroup and intragroup conflict (Horowitz 1985, 66) James C. Scott in Seeing like a State analyzes the attempts made by a state to organize their populations in ways that simplified the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion (Scott 1998, 2). This process took time to develop over the years of statehood and took complex, illegible, and local social practices and created a standard grid whereby it could be centrally recorded and monitored (Scott 1998, 2). Scott chronicles the standardization processes performed by the state beginning with nature, specifically forests, but he expands this idea to cities, people, and languages and even further to engineering entire societ ies Despite the abstract nature in which Scott presents his ideas in the beginning, it nevertheless can be applied to any states actions to control its population. Whether it is the creation and imposition of surnames or the imposition of an official language, state simplifications can be considered part of an ongoing project or legibility, a project that is never fully


16 realized (Scott 1998, 80) and are meant to provide the state with the ability to manage, transform and engineer the population and society. Causes of Ethnic Conflict The politicization of cultural identities contributes to the possibility of ethnic conflict. Such politicization has historically been a colonial process that established power relations between groups. Most people are born into the ethnic group in which they will die and ethnic groups consist mostly of those who have been born into them, and this connection makes the cultural ties among the members of the group that much stronger and more easily manipulated and mobilized into a defensive position against challenges to its identity (Horowitz 1985, 55). Processes of ethnic differentiation are increasingly important to understanding how the Acholi community is trying to differentiate itself from the LRA. Horowitz notes that; a group that found itself losing its distinctive id entity by absorption in another ethnic group might respond by emphasizing its cultural uniqueness, selectively recalling ancient glories, resuscitating all that distinguishes group members from others, destroying all that links them to others (Horowitz 1985, 70). The causes of ethnic conflict are highly specific to the countries in which they occur, but what is common is a perceived challenge from one group towards the cultural values, position of power, or economic standing of another. This perceived chal lenge is often enough to create a movement for mobilization. For the purposes of this study, I will consider the militarization of ethnicity as a cause of ethnic conflict and the power relations that emerge from such historical relationships; this is relev ant to the case of the Acholi of Northern Uganda but may not be applicable in every case. How ethnicity is constructed around the military involves the manifestation of the five ingredients that


17 Smedley proposes for what the racial ideology in North Americ a consists of. As the five ingredients are put in place by the colonial power the feelings of the people who are being targeted to become a part of the military. Military involvement within the state is inherently political and was often put in place bef ore independence, then reformed and reestablished after independence in former colonies. The distribution of power within the military tends to generate ethnic resentments (Horowitz 1985, 443). Recruitment of military troops and officers was a method oft en employed by the colonial powers that introduced physically preferred attributes to meet their strategic needs. Usually favoring one ethnic group over another, an unequal balance of power within the military would occur and in an ethnically divided soci ety, domination of any powerful institution by a single ethnic group constitutes a danger that that institution will be used for ethnic purposes (Horowitz 1985, 457). Ethnic favoritism in an institution such as the military often gives control to a group within the country, exacerbating ethnic tensions and, as will be seen in the case of Uganda, causing longterm and detrimental ethnic conflicts. The political nature of the military in Uganda established during the colonial era contributed to the developme nt of the post colonial regimes in which it became increasingly imp ortant to control the military. Historical Background The Acholi live in the districts of Pader, Kitgum, and Gulu (also referred to as Acholiland) in Northern Uganda with a population t oday of approximately two million. When the first British explorers arrived in Acholiland in the mid1800s, the then quarter million population of Acholi were primarily rural and sparsely spread throughout the


18 region. Uganda was colonized by the British in 1896. Traditionally agriculturalists and cattle herders, the Acholi had a stable social and livelihood structure. British colonial rule brought a significant shift in Acholi identity The new ly constructed identity changed their reliance on their traditional livelihoods, giving them another way to support their families, but simultaneously contributed to their vulnerability to and participation in ethnic conflict. The northsouth divide is another significant factor shaping the situation of the Acholi today ; this divide was firs t exploited under colonial rule and continues to be a major source of tension in Uganda. The Acholi are traditionally agriculturalists and cattle herders most often farming millet, sesame, sweet potatoes, ground nuts, cassava, beans, and peas (Girling 1960, 16). U nder the British policy of developing a capitalist cash economy, cotton was introduced as a cash crop and the Acholi were seen and used as a cheap labor s ource to work in the south on plantations and industrial projects. The colonial rulers required all adult males between certain ages to cultivate a minimum of two acres of cotton under penalties of fines and imprisonment (Girling 1960, 176). The British saw the north as too far removed from the main trading areas of the south, and therefore beyond the collection of taxesthere was no attempt to stimulate agricultural or other production in the north (Girling 1960, 176). British colonial rule thus effec tively created a socio economic division between north and south that consequently led to an economic marginalization of the north and a further development of the south (Vlassenroot and Doom 1999, 8). Designated as a labor force, it is clear that the Acholi were relegated to a lower rank in the Ugandan social environment.


19 When World War I started, the Acholi identity gained another facet as they were recruited in large numbers for the Kings African Rifles, and the semi military services of the Police and Prison departments, and continued to be used in these departments after Ugandas independence (Girling 1960, 179). The Acholi realized that the military offered them stable wages and thus a means to support their families, as well as a way to contribut e to and become an important part of Ugandan society. The military identity that was being constructed paved the way for tensions and conflict between the peoples of Uganda. The colonial rulers regarded themselves as instrumental in the formation of an over all belonging to a nation (Finnstrom 2003, 61). As Acholiland became the central recruiting area for the Briti shs Kings African Rifles, the British were establishing what would become a sense of nationalism in the Acholi. By manipulating the Acholi i nto a position where the military was the only way to become relevant in a society that was quickly being tilted away from their favor, the British were able to establish an imagined sense of national identity among the Acholi. This newly established natio nalistic sentiment after Ugandas independence and the manipulation of it by the regimes that came into power influenced the subsequent experiences of the Acholi and their further marginalization. By Ugandan independence in 1962 the armed forces were mad e up largely of Acholi, who [now] saw the profession of a rms as their natural vocation, reinforced the notion of this concept of a people, bound together by a common culture, defining itself as a nation or chosen to be the military backbone of the state [which] was created through colonial interference (Vlassenroot and Doom 1999, 8). The Acholi had been transformed into a military ethnocracy, an ide ntity that they came to embrace


20 (Vlassenroot and Doom 1999, 8). This identity combined with continued economic marginalization in the north and the use of the military was used to secure authoritarian regimes in the post colonial periods to set the stage for the conflict T he early governments in Uganda employed the military to settle political disputes and this politicization of the military placed the Acholi were in a troubling position. Milton Obote was the first President of Uganda following independence from the British. Being a northerner, Obote continued to recruit northerners into the military a nd police forces and began the phase of political exploitation of the military to secure power In 1971 Obote was overthrown by a coup led by Idi Amin, and ethnic tensions were revealed in a violent manner. By this time the Acholi dominated the armed forc es and posed a serious threat to Amin, who was from the northwestern part of the country and belonged to the West Niler ethnic group. Amin ordered that Acholi officers and servicemen be massacred due to his fear of their power and influence within the mili tary which had become a tool to maintain power and control over the country. West Nile men were promoted to take the places of Acholi and Langi officers and soldiers (Horowitz 1985, 489). Amins coup was based on the ethnic ties that he built during his years as General. B y the time the violence occurred with the installation of Amins regime the people of Uganda had been classified around their perceived biological and cultural differences whose boundaries had been constructed and solidified during the colonial period. When Milton Obote returned to power in 1980, the Acholi again became prominent in the military representing 30% to 40% of the approximately 35,000person force (Gersony 1997, 8). During the early years after independence the army, often


21 perceived by the public as largely of Acholi origin, was used by the government for the unenviable job of settling power disputes and carrying out unpopular government orders, gaining for it the enmity of many Ugandans (Gersony 1997, 9). The reputat ion of the military combined with the fluctuating n umbers of Acholi in the ranks became increasingly more problematic. The culminating point of this growing division came in 1981 when Obotes primarily Acholi, Ugandan National Liberation Army (UNLA) began a counter insurgency movement against Yoweri Musevenis National Resistance Army (NRA) in Luwero district in central Uganda. The UNLA forces in Luwero were sometimes referred to as the Acholis, because of the large number of Acholis who comprised its officer and enlisted corps during this time (Gersony 1997, 10). Some estimate 300,000 people were massacred by 1986. T he Luwero conflict resulted in many Ugandans holding the Acholi responsible for the atrocities that were committed. The conflict would act as a catalyst that would complete the polarization of ethnicities in Uganda. By the time the NRA defeated the UNLA and drove them north into Acholiland many Acholi share d a collective identity as proud and able professional soldiers in the Colonial post independence uniformed services (Gersony 1997, 15). S tripping the Achol i of their military identity was seen as a humiliation and when combined with the loss of their pr eviously protected status when a northerner was in power, was very unsettling to the Acholi community. The loss of the economic stability that the jobs in the military provided was compounded by the loss of the Acholi communitys nearly 300,000 head of c attle, goats, sheep, and other livestock, which represented not only their savings, but also their contingency reserve for sickness, drought, retirement, education and marriage dowry


22 (Gersony 1997, 31) Karamojong cattle raiders had come through Acholila nd and raided the livestock, and in one night the Acholi were deprived of a significant economic, social and cultural sy mbol. I t was one of the greatest economic and morale blows of the war (Gersony 1997, 32). It was d uring this period of continuous e conomic and cultural blows that Joseph Kony and his Lords Resistance Army began their endeavor to cleanse the Acholi people of their negative reputations and sins. According to Konys ideals, only a purified Acholi people, with a renewed identity, will be able to fight victoriously against the army of Museveni and regain an autonomous political existence (Vlassenroot and Doom 1999, 23). But what began as an endeavor to fight and defeat an adversarial government soon became a violent campaign against the Acholi population. Alt hough the Acholi population initially supported the LRA, they quickly realized as they became the victims of LRA aggression that they were in a severely desperate situation in which their lives and identity were at stake. This situation presented a quandary for the Acholi; they were now the victims as well as the perpetrators. As the violence and terrorizing activities of the LRA increased, the government implemented a program that established protected villages to protect the popula tion from LRA attacks, but it soon became evident that to live in the campsis to be a living buffer or a shield ( kwot ) between the two fighting forces. The rebels frequently attack the displaced people, on the camp peripheries and elsewhere. In many camps the army detachments are located in the centre of the camps. Therefore, when the army decides to engage the rebels, they often do so from a privileged position (Finnstrom 2003, 41). The camps encompassed over eighty percent of the Acholi population who within forty eight hours were expected to leave their land and belongings and move into these villages. Over the twenty three year period of conflict, the LRA ensured a developmental standstill in Northern Uganda, especially within the camps where the population was


23 increasingly vulnerable to attacks. Due to the inaccessibility to their land, the Acholi community was largely unable to continue farming and was left without any means of re establishing their livelihoods. At the height of the displacement, No rthern Uganda had 1.8 million internally displaced people, the majority belonging to the Acholi community. The humanitarian intervention that occurred to help the displaced living in the protected villages was quickly overwhelmed b y the situation on the ground. Even t hough the conflict cannot in any way be blamed on the intervention that took place the marginalization of the Acholi community and the conflict itself was in some ways sustained by the support given by the international community to the go vernment internment camps This issue requires critical attention and will be addressed in chapter two. T he cessation of hostilities in 2006 and the relative peace that has existed since then have allowed the return process for IDPs to continue N ow return is almost complete for most of the Acholi community, but there remains a significant lack of support for IDP returnees, which will be dealt with further in the final chapter of this study. Conclusion The ethnic identity that individuals hold provides the only stability in the otherwise grossly unstable social and political environment in Uganda. The Acholi in particular feel that the only safety they have is in Acholiland. The twenty three year conflict in Northern Uganda is illustrative of t he targeted persecution of the Acholi population when they had been ident ified as connected with the LRA and of the tactics of Musevenis government to keep the North as separated as possible from the more


24 developed Southern region. The state does not impose the identity of being Acholi on the population; if anything the state does not seem to care one way or another how people identify themselves, but it has come to benefit greatly from the massive amount of aid brought into the country to help the North develop. The Acholi, despite being the victims of a conflict that lasted over two decades have survived as a community with significantly stronger beliefs in their ethnic identity. Acholi beliefs in their identity have become the only source of stabilit y within their society. Thus, the distinction of the LRA a s a separate group of people from the Acholi a division manipulated purposefully by the state and solidified inadvertently by t he international c ommunity becomes an even greater problem to confron t. Not all members of the LRA belong to the Acholi ethnic group, but with more than 50,000 children abductees and nearly the entire population of Acholiland having been displ aced during the war, the LRA had an impact on every single persons life making r eintegration a very difficult process for the LRA ex combatants. Once identified as an Acholi rebellion group, the LRA has become a group of its own, receiving a separate and different attention than the re mainder of the Acholi population. The issues surrounding the reintegration of ex combatants will be the subject of the following chapter which will also consider the implications of the humanitarian intervention more fully.


25 Chapter Two DDR, Amnesty, and the LRA in Northern Uganda Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) has changed significantly since it was first employed by the United Nations (UN) in 1989. A systematically organized technical answer to a complicated problem, DDR programs offered the international commu nity a way to initiate the peace process outlined in the settlements of conflict and address security and stabilization challenges DDR was proposed as a solution, but many of the initial programs were formulated and transformed through a trial and error p rocess that continues today. Several programs have wide scopes and include transitional justice mechanisms in an attempt to provide a more suitable environment for social and economic reintegration to occur in conflict and post conflict settings. Unfortuna tely, these programs cannot always adequately address the issues that they are engineered to resolve and they often result in the unequal distribution of resources for different beneficiaries of the programs. The implications of a failed DDR program are greater than they have ever been in the history of their use, with the stability of communities and entire regions held in the balance. There are many instances where the DDR programs simply cannot address the needs of the communities and ex combatants be cause they are meant to deliver easily distinguished quick results, which most of the time involves only the disarmament and demobilization aspects of the programs rather than the complete reintegration of ex -


26 combatants. The process of reinsertion which fa lls between demobilization and reintegration often takes the place of the final phase of the program due to the greater amount of resources and longer time frame needed to secure full reintegration. Reinsertion is intended to provide a transitional safety net while preparing for longterm reintegration, and often involves beneficiaries receiving an aid package which varies in content that is meant to assist them in returning to their communities or entering new ones. There is no universal design for DDR pro grams that can be introduced in any situation, in any country. On the contrary, the programs that have been implemented are as different as the countries and the conflicts they address. The use of child soldiers adds another dimension to DDR programs, whi ch complicates the approach taken, and often requires that specialized programs be implemented in order to address the needs of the children as they return. The case of child soldiering and the impacts of the practice on DDR programs are applicable in the case of Northern Uganda because of the numbers of child abductees who were forced to become soldiers for the LRA over the two decades of war. In situations such as those in Northern Uganda with a high number of abductions and child soldiers, there is also a need to address gender issues, requiring further resources and time from the DDR program that is implemented. Young girls were targeted and abducted by the LRA, who often forced them to become the sexual partners or wives of the soldiers and commanders. Another factor in Northern Uganda that offers a challenge for the DDR program is the use of amnesty which contributes to the complexity of the situation for the reintegration of ex combatants. The conditions in Northern Uganda offer a particularly demandi ng case for any DDR program, but, more importantly the case


27 provides a situation that can now be evaluated and analyzed to ensure that many potential weaknesses in future DDR programs can be addressed and possibly resolved. This chapter will outline the e volution of DDR programs and their use in the international community. After establishing a foundational understanding of DDR programs and their objectives, I will analyze the program in place in Northern Uganda and evaluate its implementation, effectivene ss, successes, and failures. I will consider the amnesty process in place in Northern Uganda as it directly connects with the DDR program and the stability of the post conflict period in Northern Uganda. The international communitys role in Northern Ugand a will also be considered here, because amidst the humanitarian disaster that resulted in 1. 8 million internally displaced persons, international organizations are delivering aid to the displaced population while also supporting the DDR programs, psycholog ical counseling services for adult and child ex combatants, and development assistance for Northern Uganda. The unequal and disproportionate distribution of the aid provided by the international community to the displaced population, when combined with the DDR program and amnesty process has contributed to a tense social environment throughout Northern Uganda. The implications of such discrepancies will be the subject of chapter three; this chapter will provide a foundation for the claims that will be made in the final chapter. DDR: Past and Present Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programs emerged during the 1980s as a tool to manage war to peace transitions (Cartagena Contribution 2009, 15). Once a highly structured post conflict program implemented to secure long-


28 term peace, DDR has become a much more flexible and varied set of activities that are now initiated during a period of conflict as a means to not just solidify peace, but broker it. The conditions for most DDR programs a re agreed upon in peace accords or cessation of hostilities agreements but are often considered within a greater perspective with broad and extensive goals to stabilize the post conflict environment. Unfortunately, such a broad variety of programs has resu lted in many of the programs delivering on the first two segments, disarmament and demobilization, which can be completed in a relatively short period of time without many complications, but sometimes the final and perhaps most important phase, reintegrati on, being left incomplete and marred with unfulfilled expectations from the receiving community as well as the ex combatants themselves. The failures of reintegration programs cannot be attributed to one common factor but usually come about through a combi nation of factors left unaddressed by the programs. The failure of a DDR program is not always foreseeable during its planning phase; the success of the process is dependent on the success of each of its steps (UN 2000, 2), making each facet of the progr am a primary source of measurement of its success or failure. A comprehensive DDR program often rests on the successful reintegration of ex combatants, who pose the largest threat to securing stability for the state. This motivation continually contribut es to an imbalance in the attention given to ex combatants in post conflict situations, creating an environment in which hostilities can arise from the receiving communities towards the ex combatants. The demands set upon a DDR program have become so subst antial that it is not difficult to see how many ways a program can fail. In essence, it has shifted from concrete minimalist aims of security


29 and stabilization to broader maximalist goals of justice and development (Cartagena Contribution 2009, 16). The Stockholm Initiative on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (SIDDR) declares that the primary aim of DDR programs is to contribute to a secure and stable environment in which an overall peace process and transition can be sustained (Stockholm Initiative 2007, 7). This position has contributed to the evolution of DDR processes becoming more integrated into the greater humanitarian response to conflict situations. A concerted effort towards establishing a peaceful environment so that the post conflict response can proceed as uninterrupted as possible is a positive change. However, because DDR processes are typically designed and implemented under crisis conditions -humanitarian risk, political volatility, economic stagnation, institutional w eakness, and scare time and funding practitioners prioritize the design of programs for maximum speed and impact (Cartagena Contribution 2009, 2425). The programs often begin with unintended flaws due to the speedy design and implementation process that pose significant challenges for long term sustainable peace. The demands upon DDR programs do not come solely from the international community, but also arise from the ex combatants and receiving communities involved with the programs, making speedy resul ts even more critical. Disappointment is a dangerous emotion in insecure situations and can lead to stigmatization or regression, and yet it is an emotion often encountered in post conflict communities when it comes to international assistance (Stockholm Initiative 2007, 32). Since DDR programs are usually designed and agreed upon in a cessation of hostilities agreement between the parties in the conflict, the affected communities are usually left unrepresented and their


30 expectations unheard. This is the case in Northern Uganda where the concerns of the LRA and the Government were taken into account as the main parties to the conflict, but the Acholi community, who were the sole victims of the conflict, had no part in the formation of the DDR program that would require them to receive ex combatants, many of whom had been perpetrators against them. Because DDR programs are now more than ever implemented in coordination with other humanitarian operations, whether they are emergency responses or development programs, many of the issues that arise over the course of the DDR programs implementation go u naddressed due to the often overwhelming situation on the ground in the post conflict environment. As DDR continues to become a more integral component of post conflict settings, it must be supported too in its own activities. In order to achieve successfu l reintegration of ex combatants and for the entire community to move on past the conflict, there must be some form of economic development (Stockholm Initiative 2007, 37). International organizations often set up vocational training programs in an effort to provide ex combatants with employment opportunities to help them reintegrate more quickly by taking on a civilian lifestyle. Because these training programs do not always extend to people within the community who are not ex combatants, if economic stabi lization can be achieved for both the ex combatants and their receiving communities, it is less likely that they will move back towards conflict. DDR has been brought to the forefront of post conflict responses and with this role comes even more need for e ach phase to be successful. Before moving on to the relationship between DDR programs and amnesties, a more indepth description of


31 the DDR phases will establish a foundation for analyzing the DDR program in Northern Uganda. DDR Breakdown Disarmament involves the collection of weapons and ammunition from parties in a conflict, and usually occurs at the forefront of DDR programs because it easily establishes a sense of security for the ex combatants and their receiving communities. The circu mstances surrounding the collection of weapons and ammunition (e.g., whether it is mandatory to turn in a weapon to be considered a beneficiary of the program or not) depend upon the agreement between the parties of the conflict and vary from case to case. Due to this variety in agreements for the conditions of disarmament, there can be severe consequences for the programs that disregard the history of the conflict and inadvertently exclude participants by setting strict requirements to enter the DDR progra m. Though relatively simple in its purpose, disarmament is as crucial as the two other phases of DDR in solidifying and sustaining peace for the parties involved. Demobilization is the gateway to reintegration resources, a short cycle process in which me mbers of armed groups can be concentrated in cantonments, registered, approved for reintegration services, and discharged (Cartagena Contribution 2009, 17). Demobilization can be broken into two phases, the short cycle process as noted by the Cartagena Co ntribution is the first phase; the second is known as reinsertion (IDDRS 2006, 2.10, 5). Reinsertion involves the discharged ex combatants receiving a small aid package, which varies from program to program. The package usually includes basic survival nece ssities to help them make the transition to a civilian lifestyle.


32 Demobilization is a transitional process with the shortterm goal of effectively preventing a relapse into war and the longterm goal of preparing the ex combatants for reintegration into c ivilian life, but the transition from the shortterm goal to the long term goal has no time limit and often results in the stagnation of the program during the reinsertion period. A concerted effort among organizations is a must to provide consistent deve lopmental support for ex combatants and their receiving communities, and that support is crucial if the transition to the long term goal is going to succeed. Reinsertion is not always considered a separate stage in the DDR process, but, because programs can stagnate after reaching this intermediate phase and because this phase is central for the case of Northern Uganda, it will be considered here as a separate stage. Reinsertion is a form of transitional assistance to help cover the basic needs of ex comb atants and their families and can include safety allowances, food, clothes, shelter, medical services, short term education, training, employment and tools (IDDRS 2006, 2.10, 5) It differs from reintegration in that it only provides these materials and s upport for a short period of time and is meant to act as a bridge to move across towards the long term and sustainable phase of reintegration where economic and social development is supposed to occur. Reinsertion is supposed to act only as a bandaid whic h is to be followed up by further treatment of the entire community. The final phase of the DDR process is reintegration which is essentially a social and economic process with an open time frame that provides an environment in which both ex combatants and their receiving communities have access to sustainable employment and income. This is a long term process that requires significant dedication on the part of the national government as well as international support in terms of development programs, funding, and capacity building resources. It is critical that


33 development programs have been implemented well before ex combatants reach the reintegration stage so that the receiving communities can afford to incorporate them without sacrificing any of their needs. The influx of ex combatants during this phase puts pressure upon the social and economic environments and, if there has been no development, will result in growing tensions and instability that could reverse the progress that has been made in consolidating a peaceful environment after conflict. DDR and Child Soldiers The use of child soldiers requires that the DDR programs take special considerations that are sensitive to the children and to their home communities. It is necessary to consider the implications on the progression of DDR programs when child soldiers are involved, because it directly applies to the conflict in Northern Uganda. The UNs Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) declare that child sp ecific reintegration shall allow a child to access education, a livelihood, life skills and a meaningful role in society (IDDRS 2006, 5.30, 2). Childspecific DDR programs are much more likely to include the community in the process to help alleviate some of the burden that comes with caring for them, but unfortunately such a measure does not guarantee a smooth transition. Stigmatization and marginalization pose serious threats to the stability of any child DDR program, and the fears of the children and their receiving communities must be dealt with simultaneously if reintegration is going to occur. Rehabilitation is another important factor for having a successful child specific DDR program; the children receive psychological counseling to deal their often traumatizing experiences while soldiers. As with other DDR programs,


34 community development efforts are integral to creating an environment suited for accepting an influx of children that need social and economic support. In order to have a successful DD R program (adult or child), it is necessary that the root causes of the conflict be addressed before, during, and after the program has been implemented. Without a historical perspective, the program is likely to create more problems than it solves. The post conflict setting in which these programs are situated is an extremely tumultuous time in the transition from war to peace, and, if the programs are mismanaged, they could create animosities and tensions between the ex combatants and their receiving comm unities. The pressure placed upon the local communities is extensive, and it is often stated that the success or failure of reintegration is dependent upon the receiving communitys dedication to the process (UN 2000, 15). By resting the responsibility for the success of reintegration on the local community, the program, which most likely was created and organized without any input from the community, begins in a tenuous environment. If a program fails, it is not the fault of the international organizations that provide the resources and means to implement it; it is the fault of the people who were more than likely the victims of those the program is trying to reintegrate. In order to alleviate some of the tensions that could arise in the process of implemen ting a DDR program, the process is often accompanied by transitional justice mechanisms (truth commissions, amnesties, etc.) to confront these issues. Because amnesties are granted in Uganda, an overview of amnesties and the effects they have on DDR progra ms is necessary to understanding the dynamics in the Acholi community of Northern Uganda


35 Amnesties and DDR Within the field of DDR, amnesties are usually seen as one of the key incentives or preconditions for a successful DDR program, but they are a lso viewed by those outside of DDR as sources of impunity (Freeman 2009, 37). Because DDR is more concerned with establishing a secure environment for the peace process, amnesties are seen as a viable way to get a DDR program moving. Amnesties issued in contexts of armed conflict often make voluntary surrender, or disarmament and demobilization, an explicit condition of a beneficiarys eligibility, which immediately provides a sense of stability and security within the DDR framework (Freeman 2009, 56). As with DDR programs, amnesties vary from case to case and have had positive and negative effects on the ex combatants and communities involved. The importance of amnesties is based on their perceived ability to secure a sustainable peace and provide a means for ex combatants and their receiving communities to reconcile for a more successful reintegration process. For the purposes of this paper, amnesty is a legal measurewhose primary function is to remove, conditionally or unconditionally, the prospect and sometimes the consequences of a legal proceeding against designated individuals or classes of persons (Freeman 2009, 39). DDR accepts amnesties as a means to secure the first two phases of disarmament and demobilization, but those working within the t ransitional justice framework see the use of amnesties as a last resort. Many critiques of DDRs approach and use of amnesties ar e grounded in the fact that DDR prioritizes security in the short term over all else and does not concern itself with security s longer term components.


36 Because there are no official guidelines provided by the international community, whether it is from the UN, the ICRC, or the ICC, the application of amnesties is not officially condemned or condoned. The international community offers no guidance on how and what amnesties should entail, creating a situation where no regulation occurs and little attention is paid to how international law and amnesties relate to one another. Within the transitional justice framework, justice is the overwhelming goal and amnesties are seen as barrier rather than a contributor to it. Because of the scrutiny that amnesties are placed under within the international community, they have become widely criticized and undervalued. The granting of amnesty without appropriate justice mechanisms to alleviate the feelings of the victims can create extremely volatile situations in recovering societies. Amnesties and other transitional justice mechanisms have been used together in the past, in cases like South A fricas truth commissions and Sierra Leones special court and amnesty act, and have often resulted in tensions between the employed mechanisms. It is crucial that the use of an amnesty granting process be complementary to other forms of transitional justice as well as to the greater recovery situation. The failure of amnesties to properly compliment other transitional justice mechanisms and the recovery situation continues to plague the post conflict recovery processes where they have been implemented, res ulting in even further criticism. Due to the hasty circumstances in which many peace processes are often formulated, they sometimes utilize the granting of amnesties as a means of securing stability through a peace agreement, without considering the rami fications of an incomplete amnesty program once the disarmament and demobilization phases are completed. The consequences that an improperly implemented amnesty program might


37 present are potentially devastating to the entire post conflict recovery process that takes place after the peace agreement is signed, making it even more significant to plan the amnesty appropriately to secure stability but also to bring some sort of accountability to the perpetrators on behalf of the victims. The case of Northern Uga nda is an example of an amnesty process that provided a blanket amnesty that did not properly address the needs of the victims of those who were granted amnesty, resulting in an unstable environment in which post conflict reconstruction must take place. The Case of Northern Uganda The historical background of the LRA conflict has already been discussed, but in order to understand the complexities that the DDR program faces, a more comprehensive consideration is needed to look at the tactics used by the LRA and the government during the conflict. These tactics explain the desperate situation that the Acholi community find themselves in today. Following the conflict analysis, the amnesty process in Uganda will also be considered. An examination of the hum anitarian situation in Northern Uganda and the role of Gulu Support the Children Organization (GUSCO) leading up to the Cessation of Hostilities which was signed in 2006. This chapter will conclude with the current situation on the ground, which is the subject of deeper analysis in the final chapter. The LRA Conflict The LRA conflict began in 1986. It arose as a Northern rebellion led by Joseph Kony, a self professed spiritual leader, who is widely believed to be possessed by spirits.


38 Kony led the rebellion on a mission to cleanse the Acholi people of their negative reputations and take over the government. Initially supported by the marginalized Acholi population, the movement took a drastic turn for the worse when the LRA began an unprovoked vendetta against the very people they claimed to be representing. The escalation in violence from the LRA began shortly after its the Acholi community began to abandon the movement, and by 1991 the LRA had started to mutilate civilians by cutting their noses, lips, ears, and hands off as a way to deter the communitys activities to stop the LRA. The Ugandan government was not dedicated to stopping the LRA early on in the conflict initiating only sporadic troop deployments into the North. In 1992 and 1993, though, t he conflict quieted, some displaced people were even moving back home, and the government initiated its first attempt at a peace agreement with the LRA. Negotiations were led by Betty Bigombe, an Acholi, and Minister for the North. Bigombe met with Kony an d other head LRA commanders on a number of occasions to negotiate the terms of the agreement, and she worked very hard to include the Acholi elders during the negotiations. The peace process seemed to be going exceptionally well, with negotiations moving t owards ending the conflict, but before any official action could take place, the process started to unravel. In early 1994 the negotiations ended with an ultimatum from the President giving the LRA a chance to abandon the armed struggle in seven days, [or ] the NRA would destroy it (Gersony 1997, 41). This action solidified many peoples belief, especially within the North, that the government was not serious about peace and took the first opportunity to break the process.


39 After the peace talks buckled, t he LRA moved into southern Sudan where they received support from the government of Sudan and were able to once again strengthen the movement and resume their rebellion. It was also during this time that the use of land mines and abduction and forced consc ription began to occur. The abduction of children is probably the most devastating tactic employed by the LRA given the scale in which it was done, an estimated 38,000 children and 37,000 adults were abducted up to 2006. The escalation of activities by the LRA, aided with the resources gained from the Government of Sudan, and accompanied by the Ugandan governments displacement policy that was implemented in 1996, resulted in 1.8 million Acholi being internally displaced into protected villages, giving the LRA a convenient way to continue brutalizing the Acholi population. The protected villages were seen by the government as a way to protect Acholi civilians from LRA attacks but, instead, they became targets of both the LRA and government troops (See Map of Displacement)


40 Map I: Map of Displacement (Reprinted from OCHA, 2006 ANNEXE)


41 The period after the peace negotiations failed in 1994 was marked by a steady escalation in violence towards the Acholi community throughout Northern Uganda. The escalation continued until 2000 when the government passed the Amnesty Act which allowed LRA ex combatants to return to Northern Uganda without having to worry about prosecutions. The Amnesty Act will be considered in more detail in the following section, but it is important to note that despite the ability for combatants to return with amnesty, th e conflict did not end but continued to escalate. By 2002, approximately 90% of the population, 1.8 million people, were in internally displaced persons camps and the government was preparing to execute Operation Iron Fist to destroy the LRA, which failed and again caused an increase in violence against civilians. In 2003, President Museveni referred the case of Northern Uganda to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in an attempt to quell the threat of the LRA with the help of the international community The involvement of the ICC has been met by mixed reviews, especially given the issuance of arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and four of his top commanders in 2005 in an attempt to bring justice, but more importantly allow the Ugandan government to receive international assistance in its pursuit of Kony. The Cessation of Hostilities was signed in 2006 and brought relative peace to NorthernUganda. In 2008, Kony failed to appear and sign the final peace agreement. While this failure did not affect the situation in Northern Uganda, the LRA moved their operation to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Amnesty, the ICC and Northern Uganda An amnesty process is employed in Uganda under The Amnesty Act, which also largely coordinates the DDR efforts throughout the country. In the case of Northern


42 Uganda, the very broadly defined DDR and amnesty granting process was elaborated upon slightly in the cessation of hostilities agreement that was signed in 2006. Before moving on to an indepth analysis of the DDR program in Northern Uganda, The Amnesty Act and the amnesty process must be considered to unravel another aspect of the situation that makes the DDR process so complicated. The Amnesty Act was ratified on January 21st, 2000 and declares that amnesty means a pardon, forgiveness, exemption or discharge from criminal prosecution or any other form of punishment by the state (Amnesty Act of 2000). The amnesty applies to any Ugandan who has at any time since the 26thThe Amnesty Commission was placed in an administrative position over th e Demobilization and Resettlement Team (DRT), which was also established under the Amnesty Act. The DRT was created to design the programs for (a) de commissioning of arms; (b) demobilization; (c) re settlement; and (d) reintegration of reporters (Amnest y Act of 2000). With the initiation of the Amnesty Act in 2000, a more official DDR day of January, 1986 engaged in or is engag ing in war or armed rebellion against the government of the Republic of Uganda, and it grants the recipient full immunity from prosecution of any kind (Amnesty Act of 2000). The Amnesty Act represented a strong movement towards establishing long lasting p eace in Uganda and had a particularly important role to play in Northern Uganda. Under the Act, an Amnesty Commission was established to (a) monitor programmes of (i) demobilization; (ii) reintegration; and (iii) resettlement of reporters; (b) to co ord inate a programme of sensitization of the general public on the amnesty law; (c) to consider and promote appropriate reconciliation mechanisms in affected areas (Amnesty Act of 2000).


43 process was formulated with a clear ladder of responsibility to the national government. The issue of rank is not mentioned within the Act, but there is a clause in which a reporter may not be granted amnesty if the Minister of Internal Affairs, with approval from Parliament, decides that that reporter should not be granted amnesty. When the Amnesty Act was passed in 2000, a large number of LRA ex combatants returned to Nor thern Uganda to be reintegrated. Because the DDR program in 2000 was largely non existent and due to the humanitarian disaster that was continuing to develop, return often included going straight into an IDP camp rather than resettling onto their original land. The blanket amnesty offered by the act has contributed to criticism that the act does not properly deal with the intense relationship between the ex combatants as perpetrators and the Acholi community as victims. Given that there was no official DDR program until 2006, the reintegration process was largely facilitated by local and international NGOs that provide psychological counseling, reinsertion services, and vocational training. The support provided to ex combatants and former abductees far outw eighed the support available for the internally displaced people, creating a dynamic in which tensions between the two groups could arise. The section below considers the humanitarian situation in Northern Uganda throughout the conflict and after the cessa tion of hostilities agreement was signed up until today. The Humanitarian Situation in Northern Uganda The humanitarian situation in Northern Uganda provided a devastating blow to the Acholi community as they were marginalized and victimized by both th e LRA and g overnment forces. At one point nearly 90% of the Northern population was living in


44 squalid conditions in IDP camps spread throughout the region. The governments policy of forcing the population into what they called protected villages began in 1996, and was again enforced in 2002 and 2004, culminating in 2005 with 1.8 million people forcibly moved into the camps. T he actions of the international community in regards to the Northern Uganda intervent ion did not prevent but instead contributed to the human rights atrocities and grievous injustices perpetrated during the conflict. The implications of the intervention were overlooked in the international communitys haste to prevent such atrocities and actually contributed to the ability of the opposing sides to terrorize the northern population, specifically targeting the Acholi. The mandated mission of the UNHCR until recently only included the protection of refugees, as IDPs were thought to be the conc ern of the state in which the conflict and displacement was occurring. As the Northern Ugandan conflict began before the UNHCRs mandate was broadened to include IDPs, who are defined as those persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or humanmade disasters, and who have not crossed an internat ionally recognized State border (United Nations 2007, 4) As already noted, the UNHCRs original mandate does not specifically cover IDPs (indeed no single agency has ever had a clear overarching mandate to protect them (United Nations 2007, 4) This point is important to consider when discussing the humanitarian intervention in Northern Uganda, specifically the lack of a single agency having any mandate to protect IDPs whatsoever. Not only does this imply a lack of interest in th is particular type of vulnerable population, but even more significantly it suggests that any agency that does intervene has no responsibility to or for them.


45 The internment characteristic of the protected villages in Northern Uganda has had arguably the most significant impact on the progression and length of the conflict. The often overlooked aspect of this process however, is that it was not the threat of violence from the LRA that had caused the widespread displacement, rather it was the threat of v iolence from the government itself. The government, after allowing forty eight hours to pass (the allotted time given to the population to move to the camps) went on a violent rampage, burning down villages and killing those who had not gone into the camps This disturbing policy provides a key insight to the humanitarian interventions failures in Northern Uganda : in ternational organizations were support ing the government established camps, which were in fact being used to feed the governments counterinsur gency operations. The m ilitarization of these camps turned the displaced populations into human shields, with the Ugandan government forces often taking refuge in the center of the camps using the people as a buffer zone when the LRA attacked. The governm ent did not have any plans for how it was to sustain and manage the villages after the conflict began to increase in intensity, as they were not established to become permanent settlements. They were only able to sustain their own military operations withi n these camps with the humanitarian aid supplied by international organizations. S upplies which they began to receive soon after the camps were established. The implications of such a situation provide a disturbing prospect to consider T he humanitarian c risis in Northern Uganda where nearly an entire community were not only being victimized by the government that was supposed to be protecting them, but also indirectly by those organizations providing the aid that sustained the crisis, the


46 governments counterinsurgency, and the LRA rebellion by placing the displaced population in more accessible positions making them more vulnerable to further exploitation In its official reports [regarding the intervention in Northern Uganda], the UN ignored the fact t hat people had been forced into camps and misrepresented the situation by framing displacement as the result of LRA violence, not government violence (Branch 2008, 157). This misrepresentation of the situation at hand only perpetuated the conflict and the vulnerability of the Acholi population in the north. It is important to co nsider the experiences of the Acholi community in respect to the overall situation in Northern Uganda and the needs that any comprehensive DDR and peacebuilding initiatives must co nfront in order to succeed. If post conflict recovery is going to succeed in bringing stability and development in Northern Uganda, it must simultaneously deal with the needs of both IDPs and ex combatants. The relative peace achieved after the 2006 cessat ion of hostilities agreement, created an environment in which the programs could succeed. Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and DDR The cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in 2006 and with it a very broad nondescript plan for a DDR program w as provided (s ee Appendix I for the full text of the agreement) Although the Amnesty Act, passed in 2000 did create the Amnesty Commission as well as the DRT to implement DDR programs, it gave only vague stipulations for what the DDR program was supposed to accomplish. The general provisions of the agreement regarding the DDR process were to ensure that all necessary actions are taken to achieve the overall purpose of the DDR process; (b) effective national and community ownership, leadership and


47 responsi bility for the DDR process; and (c) that the DDR process protects, dignifies and benefits women in their own right and ensures the equal participation of women in the DDR process (Republic of Uganda 2006) The lack of a solid plan for a DDR program has led to an uncoordinated effort that does not deal with ex combatant issues simultaneously with the surrounding Acholi communitys issues. In addition to the governments responsibility to ensure that a DDR process is a success, the agreement stipulated tha t they should adapt a reintegration policy which would g uide the adoption and implementation of a DDR progr am that shall become an integral part of the Governments Peace Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (PRDP) (Republic of Uganda 2006). The agreement even failed to provide deadlines of any sort which has continued to contribute to the disarray of the DDR process. The agreement initially organized the entire DDR process to occur in the Ri Kwang Ba Assembly Area in Southern Sudan, which would be facilitated and monitored by the Ceasefire Monitoring Team (CMT). The government, since the signing of the agreement, has delegated its responsibilities to the Amnesty Commission and the DRT and left them to organize and implement the DDR program. The lack of planning during the negotiation phases promoted a lack of fortitude to conceptualize a program that would satisfy the terms of the agreement while simultaneously confronting the social issues of reintegrating LRA ex combatants back into their c ommunities in Northern Uganda. The agreement does not propose the need for community sensitization but instead considers the ex combatants as the only group of concern. By overlooking the Acholi community, the agreement would not lead any DDR program to a ccommodate the victims of the LRA conflict, which, in turn, would make full reintegration possible.


48 The agreement was an important step in achieving peace for Northern Uganda but it failed to provide the infrastructure necessary to initiate a DDR program that would continue to build upon the peace established by the agreement. Instead, since the agreement was signed in 2006, there has been a steadily rising tension between the Acholi community and LRA ex combatants that has significantly altered the progre ssion of post conflict development and reintegration programs. If the reintegration is to continue moving forward, then the programs must be reformulated to include the victims and Acholi community in an attempt to restore a sense of justice to Northern Ug anda, allowing the population to move beyond the enduring repercussion of the conflict. Considering the failures in design, the reintegration has gone remarkably well. Given the fluctuating numbers of ex combatants that would return on any given day, week, or month the programs have been placed under extreme demands to meet the needs of the ex combatants they receive. A Relative Peace and Post -Conflict Recovery The relative peace that has been experienced in Northern Uganda since the cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in 2006 has given the Acholi community the opportunity to recover, but only minimally, because development has been relatively slow and victims issues have been left relatively unaddressed The consequences of such a poorl y implemented DDR program are continuing to become evident in Northern Uganda with the growing tensions between Acholi community members and ex combatants. Marginalization of ex combatants continues to affect relationships in every facet of social life in Northern Uganda and has left few options for them to contribute to


49 the community they once called their own. Relying heavily on the aid that they receive from the organizations that initially helped rehabilitate and resettle them, in part because of the poor economy in Northern Uganda, they are often seen as a burden by their families who are meant to support them. The next chapter will consider the implications of the reintegration of LRA ex combatants on a societal level and the consequences of the aid programs that have been implemented throughout Northern Uganda. Building upon the issues discussed in this and the previous chapter, the problems confronting ex combatants will be examined alongside those faced by the internally displaced persons in Norther n Uganda to create a means of comparing the experiences and concerns of both groups, as well as the national and international responses to both groups. The holes that were created during the peace process can be considered major factors in the current sit uation in Northern Uganda, but they are certainly not the only contributors to the situation. Because the underlying causes of the conflict have not been properly addressed by the national or international aid programs, the problems have been allowed to fe ster for over two decades.


50 Chapter Three The Acholi and the LRA: Reintegration and its Aftermath Understanding the historical experiences of the Acholi, and the conflict that has torn apart their community provides a foundation for analysis of how the situation in Northern Uganda today has developed The history of ethnic division from early in Ugandas colonial experience has had reverberating effects on ethnic relations throughout the country. Yet, ethnic identities are evolving a nd continuously changing. In the Ugandan national context of social and ethnic cleavages there is a growing split between the Acholi and the LRA (who are of Acholi ethnicity) in addition to the division between the Acholi and the rest of the country. Joseph Kony and his top LRA commanders consciously accepted the identity that they were creating, but those whom they abducted and conscripted were unwillingly associated with the negative LRA reputation. Tensions within the Acholi community are growing and causing polarizing repercussions throughout the region with the reintegration of the ex LRA combatants who are continuing to return from the bush. While being associated with the LRA has had a significant impact on the social setting in Northern Uganda, it alone is not the sole cause of the social tensions in the post conflict period. Tensions are high in Northern Uganda, exacerbated by the LRA conflict, the Ugandan government, and even the international response to the humanitarian situation in


51 the region. T his chapter will consider the e ffects of the conflict, the government, the economic and political situations, and the international community on the development of a new and deep social division between the Acholi and the ex LRA returnee s After considerin g the noncombatant s situation during the conflict and up to the present then the ex LRA returnees circumstances during and since the conflict, this chapter will examine the interactive relationships between the two groups in the IDP camps, transit site s, and the urban and rural areas The international presence in Northern Uganda has provided a number of reports and survey studies by international organizations and local NGOs that assess the situation on the ground and state of the community. These sour ces, coupled with firsthand observations of the reintegration process, enable a thorough assessment of the programs, the development situation in Northern Uganda, and the impacts both have had on the community they are meant to help. Non -combatants in No rthern Uganda During the conflict, the Ugandan government forced approximately 90% of the Acholi population to move into what it called protected villages. Though the governments protected villages scheme began in 1996, displacement was experienced throughout the region from 1986, when the LRA conflict first began, but it was never as widespread as after 1996. The massive displacement created a humanitarian situation that completely obliterated the former lives of the nearly 1.2 million Acholi who w ere living permanently in the IDP camps beginning in 1996. The abrupt displacement crippled all economic activity throughout the region, which would remain stagnate throughout the conflict. The ability of the civilians to assure their livelihood needs was stripped away,


52 and the only opportunity to meet these needs was to live in the camps where they would receive aid from the humanitarian organizations. An unsustainable level of dependency began to develop between the Acholi and the humanitarian organizations. In 2005, it was estimated that 85 percent of all households in the camps were dependent on food aid[and] the poverty level in Gulu alone was three times the national average (Vinck and Pham 2009, 67). Not everyone decided to move into the camps. Ma ny people moved to the town of Gulu, which over the years, developed into the center of operations for the network of humanitarian organizations operating throughout the region. The displaced urban population were initially provided emergency aid, but as t hat aid was increasingly funneled towards the camps, the urban displaced were left to fend for themselves. Despite all displaced populations inability to produce what was needed to survive, the segment of the population who lived in the camps was seen as a more vulnerable population and more desperate for emergency aid. The massive financial inflow into an area with minimal agricultural production and no industry has led to the development of a significant urban economy almost entirely determined by emerg ency funding (Branch 2008, 6). The new urban economy has had and continues to have significant impacts on life in Northern Uganda. Aid agencies have directly employed a number of peoplebut the most significant expansion has taken place in the service se ctor that grew up around the humanitarian industry (waitstaff in bars and restaurants, cooks, cleaners, attendants, bargirls, motorcycle taxi drivers) and in the small scale formal and informal petty vending sector around that (selling produce, charcoal, newspapers, household items, or snack foods at the edge of the street, or in kiosks or the market) (Branch 2008, 7) In addition to the urban economy, there were other benefits to living in town rather than camps. The camps were administered by the organiz ations that provided and


53 distributed aid, but had very little military support or protection. In contrast, urban areas, especially Gulu had a much larger military presence making it less susceptible to LRA attacks. The roads leading outside of town were also heavily patrolled, allowing residents of these areas to remain in their homesteads. The urban displaced in Gulu town do not receive emergency relief aid, that is, food rations or nonfood items such as jerry cans, tarps and blankets (Branch 2008, 5) Many people continued to move to town in order to access the economic opportunities despite the lack of aid available to them. The influx of people into Gulu resulted in a growing number of clusters of grass thatched huts in new neighborhoods that rese mble the IDP camp setting. The entire noncombatant population in Northern Uganda has been subjected to unrelenting social, economic, political, physical, and psychological traumas that make the community vulnerable to inequalities in the post conflict en vironment. Community tension remains high in this uncertain and insecure time in the recovery phase, despite the relative peace throughout the region. Depending upon the location of their displacement, noncombatants may or may not have been able to access basic services including health, water, and education. Living in the camps or in town, many had access to these necessities for survival. If they were not provided in the form of aid, there were ways to get them. Although almost all Northern Ugandans were exposed to violence, the displaced population living in town was not subjected to the brutality and victimization by the LRA that those who lived in the camps experienced on a daily basis. The levels of exposure to violence varied in the camps, urban are as, and rural areas (See Table 3.1) Despite the governments excuse of civilian protection to defend their displacement policy, the exp osure to violence in the camps wa s highest in general


54 exposure, direct exposure, witness exposure, and coercion (Pham an d Vinck 2009, 66) Urban areas were considerably safer, and this perceived security caused perhaps the most visible symbol of the desperation in Northern Uganda at the height of the conflict: the approximately 40,000 children known as night commuters, who would leave the camps every night to seek the security offered in the urban areas. The LRA generally moved through the camps at night because of the cover that the darkness offered them. Such significant differences among the living areas reify the perception of security throughout the region as a determining factor in every aspect of the Acholi communitys daily life. Table 3.1: Non combatant Exposure to Violence (Reprinted from Pham and Vinck 2009, 66) Table 3.1 summarizes the experiences of the majority of the displaced population. The exposure to violence that the noncombatant Acholi population experienced throughout the LRA conflict is an important factor when considering the implications of reintegr ating ex LRA returnees without properly confronting the victims issues. With regard to general exposure, almost all the respondents had their house destroyed (92.8 percent), had assets stolen (animals: 91.1 per cent, other assets: 94.5 per cent), or lost income (88.1 per cent). Looking at direct exposure, 32.8 per cent reported having been beaten by the LRA and 4.7 per cent reported being maimed. The UPDF also committed violence: 7.8 per cent of respondents reported having been beaten by the UPDF. Respondents frequently witnessed violence, including attacks by the LRA (79.0 per cent), abduction (76.9 percent), or beatings by the LRA


55 (65.9 per cent) or the UPDF (59.9 per cent). One third (38.4 per cent) of respondents also reported having witnessed the LRA killing someone (Pham and Vinck 2009, 66). The possibility that the experiences of the noncombatant population might have negative impacts on the relations with the ex LRA returnees will be discussed in more detail later. The entire noncombatant popul ation, whether they lived in the camps or in urban towns, had a desire to return home, which was seen as the only real solution to their circumstances. With the signing of the cessation of hostilities agreement in 2006, for the first time in twenty years it seemed possible for the displaced population to return home permanently. However, the relative peace that has been experienced since 2006 has not expedited the return process as was expected. Instead, many people decided to stay in the camps, motivated by factors such as the camps schools, health systems, water sources, and various food and material distributions (UNHCR 2010, 14). The location of home villages did not guarantee the ability to access the services available in the camps. The school syste ms in the camps, in particular, contributed to hesitation within the population, as they offered some of the best educational services in the region. The camps were often situated around trading centers on or near major roads, and thus offered a much more convenient living situation during the conflict. During the conflict, over 150 IDP camps were operating throughout Northern Uganda. To encourage people to leave the camps after the agreement was signed, the government began to close them down, and by 2010 they had closed or decommissioned 135 of the camps (UNHCR 2010, 14). The government closures have not discouraged people from staying in the camps, but the food and material aid distribution stopped, complicating the situation on the ground. Because the trading centers were situated so near to the camps, the population is still able to get many of the necessities to support themselves. A


56 significant factor in the decision making processes of the IDPs as to whether they would return to their villages of origin is the ability for them to receive, or at least have access to, services that were available to them in or around the camps. The vast network of NGOs has, over the years, constructed health centers, extensive water resources (boreholes, wells, etc.) and schools around the camps, an important step in the humanitarian response process, but one that is now proving to be somewhat counterproductive in achieving the long term development goals set for Northern Uganda. Fear continued to be a significant deterrent for most IDPs when considering moving back to their villages of origin. Because there is still no final peace agreement, the fear that the LRA may one day return remains in peoples minds. During the conflict, people were not allowed to move freel y outside the camps. The government would not permit anyone to leave; the IDPs were prisoners of a war that was not theirs. However, fear is decreasing every year, and the hesitancy within the non combatant population appears to be rooted in the lack of development of the regions infrastructure at this point in time. As a primarily subsistence agricultural community, when the Acholi were forced to abandon their homesteads and move into the camps, they were forced to abandon their primary means of subsis tence, creating a situation where most could and did become entirely dependent upon food aid. When the food aid and distributions were stopped (and many had not moved back to their villages at this point), they had no means of supporting their food needs, because they had not been able to access their land in order to plant crops.


57 Some people decided to remain in the camps and commute back and forth between their villages of origin and the camps, or move to transit sites that are between the camps and the ir villages, allowing them to maintain the links to their home in a camp as a way to ensure safety in case of renewed hostilities, to take advantage of the existing services, or not be excluded from future distributions (UNHCR 2010, 14). The ability for the IDPs to be able to sustain themselves and begin reversing the effects of the conflict centers around them regaining their agricultural resources and being able to take care of their children. Educational and health services are major concerns for the population, and the lack of infrastructure in the rural areas poses a serious problem for both returning home and long term development. The new economy in Northern Uganda has been reformulated around the humanitarian industry in the region. As noted earl ier, a service industry began to develop around the hubs of humanitarian organizations, but these vocations are seen by some as temporary sources of income, not long term sources (SWAY 2008). Another issue facing any long term development program will be a ddressing and building up the social, economic, and transportation infrastructures in the region to support the agricultural economy that is the most viable development option for Northern Uganda. Given the circumstances of the conflict and the number of e x LRA returnees that have been reintegrated, the need for a strong infrastructure and economy is even more crucial to support the influx of uneducated ex LRA returnees. The following section will consider the lives of reintegrated ex LRA returnees and the challenges they face in the current post conflict environment.


58 Ex -LRA returnees in Northern Uganda From the outside, the lives of returned ex LRA returnees do not appear to differ significantly from the rest of the Acholi population, but there are differ ences that extensively affect their abilities to reintegrate back into the Acholi community. The challenges they face are the direct results of their time with the LRA. Whether it was their abduction and forced conscription, or being forced to kill, the ps ychological suffering many ex LRA returnees were forced to endure was understood by the humanitarian community. As a result, these humanitarian aid organizations operating in the area developed a number of rehabilitation programs to address the issues of e x LRA returnees. In the early stages of the conflict, the LRA began to employ abduction as a systematic tactic to recruit fighters, instill fear, and punish civilians seen as collaborating with the government (Pham, Vinck, and Stover 2007, 13). More specifically, the LRAs focus has been largely upon adolescent males aged twelve to sixteen (Annan and Blattman 2010, 134). Although the LRA is notorious for abducting children and adolescents, they abducted all ablebodied members of a household to carry looted goods, but were usually under instruction from the senior leadership to release children under eleven and adults older than their midtwenties after loot was delivered (Annan and Blattman 2010, 139). The young children and older adults could exper ience abductions lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, but those adolescents who were targeted by the LRA have reported abductions lasting years. Violence and the threat of punishment were principal instruments of control in the LRA, and even short abductions involved exposure to significant brutality (Annan and Blattman 2010, 140).


59 In order to maintain their ranks, the LRA needed more than control established through the threat of violence or punishment, they needed a means for unification. For the LRA, the unification and allegiance cultivating mechanism surrounded spiritualism. Kony was believed to be possessed by spirits from the beginning of the conflict and this claim is no longer questioned by the abductees or the Acholi community, whi ch adds to the mystery surrounding the entire rebel movement. A spiritual initiation ceremony, typically featuring prayers and anointment with oil, was reported by the vast majority (70 per cent) of males taken for two weeks or longer (Annan and Blattman 2010, 141). The fear and respect that Konys spiritual powers instilled were another facet of his control over the abductees. Ultimately, the majority of forcible recruits appear to either escape or perish. Four fifths of abducted youths return. More t han nine in ten of the fifth that did not return can probably be assumed perished, as few remain with the LRA (Annan and Blattman 2010, 143). Over the course of the conflict it is estimated that 66,000 people were abducted by the LRA. Targeting youth remains a widely used tactic, as they are most vulnerable to manipulation and easily adapt to changed circumstances. As Pham, Vinck and Stover found in their study looking at returnees that reported to reception centers (see Table 3.2) the average length of abductionwas 342 days but along gendered lines girls and women were, on average, abducted for nearly 2 years (643 days) more than twice th e average length of abduction for boys and men (248 days) (2007, 11). Those who experienced the longest abductions were women between the ages of nineteen and thirty; they spent an average of four and a half years in captivity (Pham, Vinck and Stover 2007). Young girls and women were often kept as wives for commanders, which explains


60 why their stays were on average significantly longer than their male counterparts of the same age. Overall, women represented only twenty four percent of abductees that report ed to a reception center, the remaining seventy six percent were males (Pham, Vinck and Stover 2007). Table 3.2: ExLRA returnee Experience of Violence (Reprinted from Pham, Vinck, and Stover 2007, 29) So much of the international communitys focus has been upon the psychological experiences of the abductees, and thus many programs focus on the needs of the individual ex LRA returnees, rather than working with both the receiving community and the returnees. However, the entire population has been subjected to violence in one form or another and the ex LRA returnees are not the only group that needs to have access to rehabilitation services. Exposure to and the experience of violence over the course of abduction was nearly inevitable for ex LRA return ees. Few reception centers, upon receiving ex LRA returnees recorded the forms of violence that the ex LRA returnee s were subjected to, participated in, and witnessed, but the Caritas reception center in


61 Apac, which received 192 ex LRA returnees by 2007, did collect this type of information (see Table 3 .2). Pham, Vinck, and Stover (2007) compiled the information from Caritas in Table 3.2, but they did not discuss sexual abuse as Vinck et al. (2007) do in Table 3.3 across the population.


62 Table 3.3: Exposure to Violence (Reprinted from Vinck et al. 2007, 550)


63 The depiction of abductees as helpless children forced into participating in and perpetrating atrocities has fallen out of favor among some researchers who note that most of them [ex LRA returnees] returned as young adults with certain capacities, a se nse of independence and self esteem, and more or less clear reasons as to why they were fighting with the LRA (Mergelsberg 2010, 167). Despite the number of programs targeting what are deemed the most vulnerable segments of the population by the NGOs, som e studies discuss the inadequacies and insufficiencies of the programs available to these groups (SWAY 2007 and SWAY 2008). The studies go so far as to suggest that the Ugandan government and NGOs should abandon crude targeting categories such as abduction, motherhood status, and orphansassistance will be more effective if it is targeted to observable needs (SWAY 2008, ix). As we shall see, the targeting of abductees and ex LRA returnees left many of the most vulnerable noncombatants without aid and support. Reintegration and Its Social Implications During the conflict, the numbers of abductees who returned fluctuated on a daily, weekly and even yearly basis. Because of these fluctuations, many rehabilitation and reintegration programs quickly became overwhelmed in periods of mass return, which can explain the inconsistencies in the treatment and services received by ex LRA returnees. Some returnees received services when they were processed, others were placed on waiting lists and told to keep checkin g back in with the center to receive services when they became available. This path, though, only applied to those abductees and ex LRA returnees who actually reported to the UPDF, Amnesty Commission, Local


64 Commissioner (LC), or reception center, but most abductees return straight home when they come back. Before discussing the reception centers in more detail, the process of returning and beginning the reintegration process should be considered first. The abductees and ex LRA returnees who manage to return from LRA captivity most likely had to escape. Very few abductees are let go by the LRA. When abductees escape, are released, or are rescued, they either report to the Amnesty Commission, their LC, the UPDF, or a reception center. Regardless of whom they i nitially report to, the abductees or ex LRA returnees will report to the UPDF to be questioned about their experience as well as their knowledge about the LRA. This process, of course, only applies to the abductees and ex LRA returnees that report to one of these organizations, but it is well documented that half of the youth [that return] go straight home rather than pass through formal reception with the UPDF and/or the reception center (SWAY 2007, 63). These statistics are startling considering how man y resources are dedicated to supporting abductees and ex LRA returnees. They indicate both the fear and uncertainty that many ex LRA returnees feel when returning home, but also inadequate education about these programs, which results in many of the return ees simply remaining ignorant of their existence. Fear is by far the most significant deterrent in the decision on whether to report or not. Acknowledging that many abductees and ex LRA returnees do not pass through the reception centers and do not receive rehabilitation and reintegration services, we only have the data to evaluate the circumstances of those who do receive services. The reception centers operating in Gulu are run by Caritas, GUSCO, and World Vision, and they each offer programs targeting f ormerly abducted persons (FAP), but


65 children in particular.1Many of the ex LRA returnees who go through reception centers or the Amnesty Commission receive some kind of vocational training or educational opportunity when they complete the programs in order to help them become a contributing me mber of the community once again. But because many receive the same kind of training (i.e., tailoring, beadwork, carpentry, mechanics), the markets quickly become saturated and there is little work left to be done. Psychosocial programs are by far the most common, and they often result in the FAP receiving some sort of material aid, counseling and rehabilitation services, and medical care. During the height of the conflict, the programs usually ended when the FAP had been resettled either with family or in the camps. Most programs focus on child ex LRA returnees, which, unfortunately, doesnt build the communities capacity to deal with the influx of adult ex LRA returnees (Conciliation Resources 2004, 12). The lack of community integration into the reintegration programs facilitated by the organizations operating the reception centers is a significant problem for successfully reintegrating any ex LRA retur nee, child or adult. 2 1 During the time I spent in Northern Uganda working with the Amnesty Commission, I spoke with ex LRA returnees who had gone through the reception centers; the time they spent in the programs varied and did not correlate with the lengths of their abductions In addition, the services they received varied. The inconsistencies of the programs designed to support the abductees left them angry, frustrated and often times hopeless. Another significant problem with the tra ining programs is that they do not allocate start up capital for the returnees. If they are unable to procure the capital for themselves, they will not be able to work at all, despite having been trained. The training is targeted towards ex LRA returnees, leaving the displaced 2 This is possibly the most observable dilemma that many ex LRA returnees face. The streets of Gulu are lined with boda bodas (motorcycle taxis), and the markets are full of tailors, making it nearly impossible to enter the market without substantial capital resources, which the ex LRA returnees are not supplied with upon receiving the training. A more specific example involves tailoring, which is probably the most common form of training for women, but very few women who receive the training actually work as tailors.


66 population, many of whom have not been educated or trained, to fend for themselves and make ends meet.3Many ex LRA returnees after they returned and went through a reception center were resettled into a camp. Because of their status they were not placed on any food distribution lists, and were essentially left to depend upon their families or the people surrounding them. Since the cessation of hostilities agreement was signed, many ex LRA returnees, mostly those who have stayed wit h the rebels for longer periodsseek the relative protection and anonymity of town over the camps where, as one ex LRA put it, everybody knows who you are and what you have done (Branch 2008, 1213). They do not go unnoticed in town, though. Many report the same issues as those living in the camps: problems with stigmatization, harassment, as well as being unable to find jobs. Identity Issues Although they were once a part of the Acholi community, the ex LRA returnees have formed a new identity around the LRA, so when they do return, they are new to the Acholi community. By not incorporating the community into the activities throughout the rehabilitation process, the organizations were unintentionally creating a barrier that blocks full reintegration f or the ex LRA returnees they were trying to help. It is only through participation in the daily life and social interactions of the group [that] the personmoves to a position of fuller participation[This] leads to changing location and perspective withi n the community, and changing identities (Veale and Stavrou 3 Training also is included in the longer term reintegration progra ms while many ex LRA returnees receive only a basic reinsertion package. The package usually contains a jerrycan, blanket, possibly some food and also possibly a mattress.


67 2007, 277). But this re familiarization with the community is not always guaranteed, as can be seen in the case of Northern Uganda.4When ex LRA returnees return, they are often confronted with multiple identities. Usually welcomed with open arms back into their families, the ex LRA returnees are able to assume the son or daughter role they once played, but depending upon the social situation they can also be viewed as abductees or rebels by the broader community. Support and caring are sometimes hard to come by (see Figure 3.1). A core challenge facing returnees and their families and communities is in renegotiating identity with respect to each other at the point of return and reintegration ( Veale and Stavrou 2007, 286). Because the community has not been integrated into the rehabilitation and resettlement process, they have no connection with the incoming ex LRA returnees and see them as the others, the rebels, not as community members. A s Veale and Stavrou note, returnees lived experience was that their identities in relation to others could change moment to momentdepending on the context (2007, 287). 4 From my observations, I believe that many of the issues that arise during and af ter reinsertion of ex LRA returnees occur from the fear on both sides of the issue. The fears that ex LRA returnees have about being rejected or attacked because of what they were made to do are definitely a contributing factors in their perceptions of how they are treated by their communities. But the fears of the ex LRA returnees are not without foundations, there is evidence within the community of anger towards ex LRA returnees, particularly toward those who have harmed someone in the persons family.


68 Figure 3.1: Experiences of Reintegration for Ex LRA returnees (Reprinted from GUSCO 2010, 15) Among ex LRA returnees, there is a consensus that there is some degree of stigmatization and animosity towards them from the surrounding Acholi community. They often discuss their inability to find employment, how they are seen as bur dens on their families, and even harassment from community members. The psychological impacts of the LRAs atrocities on the Acholi population have been ignored and left untreated for so long that it seems as though tensions between the two groups are inev itable. While most studies (Vinck and Pham 2009; Corbin 2008; Veale and Stavrou 2007) discuss the positive attitudes portrayed in public such as understanding and forgiveness amongst the general population towards ex LRA returnees, they also depict a priv ate and underlying anger and resentment that is not expressed publicly but is deeply


69 felt. This information illuminates the identity issues and policies that have an impact on the relationships between the ex LRA returnees and the general population.5W hile civilians are generally willing to reconcile in the name of peace, it is harder when the person to be forgiven is not an abductee, but a commander who went willingly to fight, like Brigadier Kenneth Banya, once the fourth most powerful commander in the LRA hierarchy. He now happily moves around Gulu town, despite having taken four abducted adolescent girls as his wives, and has a monthly salary of 600,000 Ugandan shi llings, paid by the government (Borzello 2007, 404). The offering of a salary was a t actic employed by the Ugandan government to gain some rapport with the LRA in order to bring them home. Reintegration based solely on discourses of peace and forgiveness, without a mechanism for acknowledging identity transitions of returneesmay leave them vulnerable to rejection, making the entire reintegration effort ineffectual (Veal and Stavrou 2007, 288). The Amnesty Act has done little to alleviate the tensions felt between the community and the ex LRA returnees. In contrast, the act may be a caus e of tensions, offering blanket immunities to any ex LRA returnee, and offering nothing in the way of justice for the community. The only forms of justice are on the national (Amnesty Act) and the international (International Criminal Court) levels, leavin g the community unrepresented and unheard.6 5 On a policy note, the lack of assistance for the non combatant community who make up the majority of the displaced population is a major weakness in the developmental progression of Northern Uganda. The number of people who have been exposed to traumatic and violent events, regardless of whether they have been abducted or not is enough to warrant a less targeted program to address the psychological effects of these experiences. Because so much aid has been diverted during the conflict for the emergency si tuations in the camps, there has been a lack of long term development programs that might have included this type of support. Veal and Stavrou rightly discuss the lack of discussion of reconciliation being involved in the reintegration process. NGOs do not offer reconciliation assistance and suggest that the traditional forms of reconci liation be 6 And the international and national forms of justice are not well received within the community. Many ex LRA returnees who are eligible to receive amnesty have not reported to the Amnesty Commission, despite the ability to receive a reinsertion package upon receiving amnesty. The entire amnesty process is still not well understood.


70 pursued on a community level. It seems that the Acholis traditional beliefs in forgiveness have been taken by the international community, and even some local organizations, as a sign that the Acholi are above needing reconciliation programs. As more researchers (Allen 2010) have begun to discuss the liberties taken by the international community to invent and adulate the Acholis ability to forgive, the reality of the situation can be considered more clearly and the real tensions can be addressed if it is not already too late. Many of the ex LRA returnees who have moved to town express concerns over revenge attacks. Though no attacks have been documented, this does not discount the fear or even the possibility of them occurring. Adam Branch discusses the possibility of a new population of displaced people caused by conflict within Acholi society during the process of return (2008, 15). This new population will be those who are unable to return to their villages of origin. Many of the ex LR A returnees who have sought the protection that town offers, fear the potential for revenge attacks in the village and exclusion, especially from access to land, or mistreatment at the hands of the community, including clan and family authorities (Bran ch 2008, 18). Some ex LRA returnees living in town and in the camps expressed their interest in returning to their villages, but whether they would stay would be contingent upon how they are treated and what happens once [they are] back in the village (B ranch 2008, 19). The loss of ancestral land is a distinct possibility as it is one of the most common areas of dispute throughout Northern Uganda today. Because the majority of the population has lived for so long in the camps, almost an entire generation has grown up without knowing where their familys plots are. In the section below, the relationships between the reintegrated ex LRA returnees and the


71 Acholi community will be considered in more detail in each of the settlement types (camps, urban areas, rural areas, and transit sites) in which they are likely to encounter one another. Areas of Interaction A substantial amount of the reintegration activity in Northern Uganda occurred during the conflict, but because of the numbers of abductees that were returning, the relatively low numbers going through official avenues in their return, as well as the aston ishingly limited follow up that has occurred after reinsertion, there is no way to properly assess and analyze the circumstances in each area where interactions may occur between abductees and the rest of the Acholi population. In particular, the villages of origin, to which much of the displaced population are returning, are in very remote areas that are impassable by most forms of transportation. In addition, the region of Northern Uganda is vast, and there has been no complete mapping of where the popula tion lived before the conflict and where they are moving now that the violent conflict has ended. There are estimates of the number of people currently in transit between the IDP camps and villages of origin, but these statistics are hard to substantiate. The areas where it is most difficult to gather information about the relationships between ex LRA returnees and noncombatants are those that are most difficult to reach and keep track of, primarily the rural areas and the transit sites. Because there is adequate information regarding the experiences of ex LRA returnees in both the camps and urban areas, it is possible to relate some of these experiences to what may occur in the transit sites and the rural areas.


72 Relationships in the Camps Whether an e x LRA returnee was resettled with their family through an organization or they simply went straight home after returning from the bush, most report that they were accepted by their families with open arms. According to surveys completed by the Survey of Wa r Affected Youth (SWAY) over 94% of the youth report being accepted by their families without insult, blame or physical aggressiononly 1% of youth report that their family was unhappy or unwelcoming upon their return (2007, 66). The families whom receiv ed the ex LRA returnees were most often relieved. The reception from the surrounding community living in the camps is not always so positive however. While almost no one reported that their community blamed them for the things they had done, more than a quarter of returnees said that they were insulted by community members upon return, or that community members were afraid of them (SWAY 2007, 66). The researchers of SWAY found that there were patterns to the problems ex LRA returnees encountered when it comes to community members. First, very often alcohol is part of the problem. You often experience the most verbal abuse from drunken community members. Second, returnees were least accepted and sometimes persecuted by the parents and families of those wh o were abducted but had not yet returnedThird, these insults also seem to occur more frequently when there is rebel activity in the area [no longer applicable given that the LRA has not been near Northern Uganda since 2006]Fourth, children who return wit h some marks from the rebels such as any form of deforming injury or disability take quite some time to adjust because they are teased and constantly reminded of their experience. Those who exhibit abnormal behavior that is labeled as spiritual pollution ( cen ) seem to be more stigmatized as well. Finally, particular youth are targeted and insulted when the community knows or suspects they wer e involved in raids or killings. (SWAY 2007, 66) The results from these surveys can be used to understand the tensi ons underlying the relationships between the ex LRA returnees and community members. Though there are significant issues within the community, these are not indefinite; on the contrary they


73 might be relieved in a very short time, many ex LRA returnees repo rted that over time their relationships with community members improved. The ex LRA returnees that spent longer periods in the bush with the LRA are often subject to longer periods of community abuse, but with time it is possible that they too will be acce pted by the community. Urban Areas The experiences of ex LRA returnees in urban areas has been touched on throughout this chapter and are similar to the experiences in the camps, but ex LRA returnees discuss their belief in the fact that they can disap pear within the population in town better than they can in the camps. This seems difficult though, because they are often found in large numbers within a particular area. Although the community again reports that they do not have issues with the ex LRA re turnees (See Table 3.4), the ex LRA returnees nevertheless report very different circumstances. As noted in the section on the camps above, the returnees who were with the LRA for longer periods have a more difficult time coming back and integrating back i nto the communal lifestyle. Their lengthier stays with the rebels tend to make them more fearful of being targets of violence in the camps, either by the community members for their perceived guilt, by the government for being perceived rebel collaborator s, or by the rebels for having escaped (Branch 2008, 12) The problems do not disappear when they move to town. Many reported being subject to stigmatization, in particular verbal insults and employment discrimination. Some described being treated well at first, but then having things worsen (Branch 2008, 13). The Acholi have many traditional beliefs involving spirit possession and accusations that ex LRA returnees are possessed by evil spirits appear to be common (Branch 2008, 13). Returnees [also] reported being subject to resentment as a result of receiving NGO


74 aid when the rest of the community receives nothing (Branch 2008, 13). The feelings expressed by ex LRA returnees are contradictory to the attitudes expressed by the community as shown in Table 3.4, though there are situations in which there is evidence of some discomfort. More personal interaction with the returnee see ms to evoke more hesitation from the community, having a drink with a returnee and a returnee marrying a member of your family are shown to have the least comfortable situations among community members. Respondents were most comfortable in situations that do not involve direct interactions with ex LRA (Vinck and Pham 2009, 72). Table 3.4: Attitudes of the C ommunity towards ex LRA R eturnees in S ocial S ituations (Reprinted from Vinck and Pham 2010, 30) The urban setting is complicated further by the economic situation for the entire population. Everyone is struggling to find economic stability, and this complicates the status of ex LRA in Gulu in particular because when they return they are often uneduca ted. Being uneducated coupled with the stigmatization that they deal with leaves them with very few job opportunities. In this precarious context, economic strife could lead to future conflict if the development programs throughout the region do not


75 appropriately address these social situations. Economic development is still a relatively uncertain path for Northern Uganda and that uncertainty leaves the future of the Acholi community and the ex LRA returnees somewhat uncertain. Transit Sites Transit site s are essentially mini camps that have sprung up in places that allow the residents to commute between their villages of origin and the camps or trading centers. These sites are not supported by any humanitarian aid, but the organizations working throughout the region know roughly where they are and how many people are living in them. These sites, unlike the established camps, have not been the focus of extensive research and therefore the exact conditions within the sites are not known. It can only be assu med therefore that the conditions in these transit sites are similar to the conditions in the camps. Because these are thought to be, at this point, temporary housing in a time of transition back into villages of origin from the IDP camps, it is unlikely that there is any significant difference in the experiences of the ex LRA who might be living in these sites than what they have experienced in the camps. Rural Areas The rural areas are the most uncertain area for both segments of the community. Ex LRA returnees and non combatants alike are not sure what they will be able to do when they return to their villages, the places where they lived and worked, before the war and displacement took everything away. The ex LRA returnees have openly expressed fears about returning home because of the possibility of revenge attacks. The urban


76 displaced often attribute future revenge attacks to people in the village, who are more local, less forgiving and harsher than people in town (Branch 2008, 18). The fear surrounding every aspect of life for ex LRA has left many frustrated with having no hopes for opportunities to improve their situations. The rural areas present different dilemmas from those of the transit sites. Many of the rural areas are simply unreachabl e by most modern transportation, making any form of research logistically very challenging. More important though, is that the rural areas do not have the same infrastructural support as the urban centers and even the camps provide for the population living. The issues in the rural areas will be those that involve each and every individual in the area regardless of whether they are ex LRA or not, and these hardships could cultivate frustrations further. Conflicts related to land disputes are the most common and they often leave the stigmatized ex LRA stripped of their land privileges. According to a study compiled by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) nearly all (155/166) former Lords Resistance Army combatants surveyed in Gulu municipality reported being unable to access land upon return; 111 pointed to their inability to access land as a key driver behind their being unable to reintegrate into their origina l communities and as a result shifting to the municipality (2010, 8)7 The lack of a formal land tenure system is creating significant problems that are not being addressed. Most of the land disputes throughout the region are going unsolved, and their 7 There are an estimated 2,000 former LRA who h ave resettled in Gulu municipality because they could not reintegrate into their original their original homesteads upon return. Thousands of former LRA [are] shifting to the municipality to start a new life. This may not be a problem in and of itself af ter all, there are more jobs in town and trading centres in the North but this sub group is oftentimes perceived by communities in the municipality to be a serious strain on the rest of the community (IOM, UNDP, NRC 2010, 21).


77 co ntinuing to go unresolved could prove detrimental to development. Because of their lower social status, the ex LRA returnees are more susceptible to being taken advantage of and losing their land rights and any defense by former LRA is often dismissively referred to as aggressive behavior that was cultivated in the bush, as opposed to a reasonable or legitimate complaint (IOM, UNDP, NRC 2010, 21). Conclusion Time and time again, in report after report, it is evident that there are very opposing views of the situation between ex LRA and the community based on whether one is speaking with a community member or an ex LRA returnee. When speaking to a community member, one gets a sense that the situation in Northern Uganda is positive and hopeful for everyone. Everyone has forgiven the ex LRA returnees and life will carry on. But the picture changes dramatically when one speaks with an ex LRA returnee. Stigmatization, physical and verbal abuse, isolation these are the feelings, perceptions, and experiences of ex LRA. The challenges facing ex LRA are not easily overcome without assistance. But the assistance must confront the com munitys issues as well, and this help is harder to deliver, especially with the focus of humanitarian aid shifting towards development activities. If development activities continue to progress without addressing the underlying social issues, the subgroup of ex LRA will continue to be isolated and most likely pose a threat to the security of the areas in which they live. Although there is for the first time a real sense of and experienced peace throughout Northern Uganda, the region is still experiencing a great deal of uncertainty.


78 Will the economic progress led by the humanitarian industry continue to improve? Will those who have returned to their villages be able to grow enough food to support their family sustainably? When looking at Figure 3.2, it is startling to note that a significant part of the population believes the peace to be temporary. Figure 3.2: Perceptions of Peace (Reprinted from Vinck and Pham 2010, 17) With such uncertainty, how far can development progress? There are many unanswerable questions at this point in the post conflict recovery phase in which Northern Uganda currently finds itself. First and foremost, there must be a shift back to dealing with the social issues between the ex LRA and the rest of the Acholi community. They simply cannot be ignored any longer; the evidence from the years of reports certainly highlights a problem that has gone unaddressed on the international, national, and local levels. The full extent of the decisions to ignore the social issues will not be fully understood for years to come, but the trends over the years can provide a glimpse into what the future might entail. In an effort to illuminate these issues, this chap ter has laid out the experiences of ex combatants and abductees in contradistinction to those of noncombatants to address the issues examining of and concerns of both groups, while depicting the clear tensions


79 between them. Their issues are not incompati ble, many are the same. H ealth, education, security, food, reconciliation, and returning home are common concerns that every person must deal with daily; but because they have for so long been treated as separate groups with different needs the community has come to s ee them that way, rather than as fellow participants in a common struggle.


80 Conclusion This study has considered the implications of implementing a DDR and amnesty programs in a conflict ridden environment with limited resources such as in Northern Uganda. The social identity theory considered in the first chapter supplied the foundation to explore whether or not the relationship between the LRA and the Acholi community was creating a separate and permanent identity around the ex LRA. The second chapter discussed the formulation and implementation of DDR programs since they were first employe d as instruments for securing peace and ensuring post conflict reconstruction. The final chapter applied the principles of the first two chapters in evaluating the successes of the DDR program and the humanitarian intervention in Northern Uganda and whethe r or not they contributed to the creation of a separate and possibly debilitating identity surrounding the LRA ex combatants who have been reintegrated back into the Acholi community. There are, unfortunately, no conclusive answers to whether the ident ities that are being created in Northern Uganda surrounding the ex LRA will become permanent cleavages of the Acholi community, but what is known is that they are significantly affect ing the relationships between the ex LRA and the rest of the Acholi community now. Northern Uganda has been experiencing a relative peace since the cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in 2006. However, new issues have surfaced that affect the entire population. The new issues are adversely affecting the ex LRA because of their low social position in Acholi society. As noted in chapter three, these new issues are those surrounding ancestral lands, and often result in the ex LRA losing their rights to


81 their familys land. As many of these cases are being left unresolved, there is no way to tell when and if the ex LRA will gain their social status back as Acholi community members. The economic issues that many are facing throughout Northern Uganda place undue stress on the community, exa cerbating the tensions, and, when combined with the land conflicts, sometimes result in cases of explosive violence. The cases of explosive violence range from brutal beatings of community members by other community members to the burning of grass thatched houses, and all result in people be ing wounded. In order for the new ex LRA identity to be seen as temporary, certain improvements must be reached in the coming years. Certain attributes help gauge whether we are likely to see improvements in the relationships between ex LRA and the rest o f the Acholi community or whether division will become entrenched. For instance, the attitudes of the Acholi community members towards ex LRA as surveyed by Phuong Pham and Patrick Vinck in 2007 and 2010, have not improved as we would hope to find to illu strate positive changes in perception towards the ex LRA identity. Unfortunately, as Table 3.5 illustrates, attitudes towards ex LRA have become more negative since 2007, which suggests that the ex LRA identity is moving towards becoming a permanent social cleavage rather than a temporary one. Improvements in economic livelihoods would be another signifier of improvements in the overall situation in Northern Uganda, and would possibly alleviate some of the tensions between the ex LRA and the rest of the Ach oli community. Within the Acholi community, there are unmitigated frustrations over the amount of assistance the ex LRA have received over the years in terms of vocational tra ining and educational resources; only if they themselves can access these resources and


82 gain stable employment will their frustrations diminish as they become more comfortable with their economic statuses. Perceptions of security are another signifier that would indicate progress in Northern Uganda. The data on these attitudes are more encouraging, though there are still lingering security concerns, as Table 4.1 illustrates. Table 4.1: Sense of Security am ong the Acholi Community (Reprinted from Pham and Vinck, 2010) The statistics suggest some improvement in terms of overall feelings of security in each of the four districts where community members were surveyed. There are some noticeable areas of decl ine, however, in Gulu district; people felt least safe walking at night in a village and sleeping at night. Also, talking to UPDF soldiers was seen as significant ly less safe in three of the four districts. The decline in perception of safety when talking to UPDF soldiers is significant because they are the national governments


83 army and this fear could provide some insight into the relationship between Northern Uganda and the national government. Other evidence that can be utilized to evaluate the overall situation in Northern Uganda would be education rates, literacy rates, poverty levels, and perhaps the two most important factor to securing long term development: food security and access to services in urban but especially rural areas. It will be necess ary for all of these measures to improve in order to alleviate the tensions between the ex LRA and Acholi community. Economic and social hardships within the Acholi community act as barriers for reconciliation between the two groups because of widespread f eelings of insecurity. Food security is a major concern. If Northern Uganda were to become a food secure region, it would alleviate a significant amount of stress and hardship on the community that places them in a heightened state of frustration. In order for Northern Uganda to become food secure, the community will need to be adequately settled on their land and have a couple of successful growing seasons so they are able to begin building their food stores for future seasons. Food security relies on the community having access to and growing on their land, and, in order to have security and stability in their home villages, community members must have infrastructural support in terms of access to services. In particular, access to water and health and ed ucational services, are absolute necessities of life in the villages is going to regain any sense normalcy and if Northern Uganda is going to continue to develop in the post conflict period. Development programs must address the concerns of the community and avoid providing more support for the assumed more vulnerable ex LRA as has been done in the past. Providing more development assistance


84 to ex LRA has c reated animosity that is block ing further development. An equitable system to provide development a ssistance to those most vulnerable must be combined with broadly reaching programs that allow the entire community to develop. If, instead, the ex LRA remain the primary beneficiaries of the development aid that is being provided to Northern Uganda, more s ocial problems could arise. A significant aspect of identity creation is that surrounding th e formulation of a new culture Whether it be the way the people dress, speak, or their beliefs, something differentiates them from the surrounding communities a nd cultures. When abductees are taken and integrated into the LRA, they are essentially stripped of their Acholi identity in order to make them better soldiers. They are forced to take on the LRA identity, but when they escape, are released, or are rescued ; they attempt to regain their Acholi identity (Veale and Stavrou, 2007). Though tens of thousands of Acholi children and adults were abducted by the LRA, many having returned to live amongst their communities once again, it cannot be concluded that they become simply Acholi. As highlighted by this study, some ex LRA have encountered significant problems in the reintegration process, and many live in groups in order to feel more secure. The ex LRA do not appear to stand out within the Acholi population as a starkly different group of people ; they instead appear as the Acholi do, and the LRA identity is imposed on them. Social tensions remain between the LRA and the Acholi community and they have not improved over the years since the cessation of hostilit ies agreement was signed in 2006 (Table 3.4). But, rather than forming a new culture around their imposed identity the ex LRA are purely a marginalized Acholi sub group. Whether the


85 lack of improvement in perception of ex LRA, leads to the creation of an entirely separate identity or rather, creates a lesser group of Acholi, is still to be seen. A way to track the development of the ex LRA identity construction or deconstruction would be to consider whether the ex LRA are asserting themselves as separate from the Acholi community and cultural beliefs. Such a strategy might be difficult though, as the Acholi community is in a state of change as well, with many of the younger people asserting themselves against their traditional roles There is no real way t o predict when or even if the ex LRA identity will become permanent, but significant improvements need to occur in the social relations between the ex LRA and the Acholi community if there is any hope for reconciliation and future development. Another as pect of identity creation that would become evident if the ex LRA identity was becoming permanent, would be the Acholi community begin ing to define the ex LRA as different from the mselves through the process of othering. The ex LRA in Northern Uganda hav e been victims of this othering albeit not as explicitly as in the historical development of tensions among ethnic groups in Uganda. Instead, as Veale and Stavrou suggest, the ex LRA are denied their participatory rights within the Acholi community which does not allow them to fully reintegrate and regain their Acholi identity (2007). Their ability to get jobs, access educational and health services, and find train ing opportunities lies in the hands of the humanitarian aid organizations rather than with their own community members. The ex LRA often express feelings of isolation and resentment from the Acholi community, yet another facet of the othering process. A lthough there are some signs of othering the ex LRA within Northern Uganda by the Acholi community, many aspects of othering are not clearly evident ; if they were


86 to develop, though, they would certainly pose threats to attempts by ex LRA to regain the Acholi identity. If the ex LRA were to become differentiated socially, economically, politically, culturally or ideologically from the rest of the Acholi population this would illustrate a shift toward their rejection and a the creation of a new, inferior identity to that of the Acholi. Particularly, if the ex LRA were to become differentiated through new terms in the Acholi language this would signify a complete separation of identity The DDR program implemented in Northern Uganda has succeeded in rei nserting ex LRA back into the Acholi community, but it has not succeeded in securing the ex LRAs reintegration and reconciliation with the community. These failures do not negate the progress that has been made in the post conflict environment, but they c ertainly illuminate issues that must be confronted now in Northern Uganda and in future DDR programs wherever they are implemented. For the future of Northern Uganda, development programs must incorporate reconciliation measures in order to diminish the ne gative impacts the DDR program has had on the social relationships. The sense of uncertainty within the population will also have to decline for development to progress. As evident in Figure 3.1, a significant majority of the community members surveyed be lieve that there is peace, but over half of those believe that the peace is temporary or they are unsure if it will last. This fear is not preventing people from moving on, though. A s Allen, Laker, Porter and Schomerus report many people in Northern Uganda had gone home for Christmas [2009] for the first time in decades not to a camp or a satellite camp, but their original villages (2010, 281). There is a sense of guarded optimism from researchers and those working for NGOs in Northern Uganda, but the re is optimism nonetheless (Allen et al 2010, 282). At this point


87 in the post conflict reconstruction process only time will tell whether long term development will occur through the programs being implemented by the organizations remaining in the region. Though the future is uncertain, positive advancements are being made in Northern Uganda. W hether these developments will create an environment where the ex LRA identity no longer exists and is no longer a danger of becoming a permanent cleavage remains to be seen.


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91 Vlassenroot, Koen, and Ruddy Doom. "Kony's Message: A New Koine? The Lord's Resistance Army in Northern Uganda." African Affairs 1999: 5 36.

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